Cambodia’s electoral body is scrutinizing a bid by the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party to contest the July general election, saying approval has been given to five of eight parties to field candidates in the polls.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), headed by exiled leader Sam Rainsy, submitted its registration to the National Election Committee (NEC) on Friday without his name listed as a candidate, officials said.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha told RFA’s Khmer Service Monday that the CNRP’s registration papers are being examined.
The NEC, which organizes and manages all elections in the country, said in a statement on its website that it had “rectified a few errors in the CNRP’s registration" but did not provide details.
The election body has required the CNRP to provide more information on the registration within five days, according to Cambodia’s key ally China’s state news agency Xinhua.
CNRP officials said they had left Sam Rainsy off of the list of candidates because the NEC had barred him from running and deleted his name from voter lists on the basis of his prison convictions.
But Sam Rainsy—who is living in self-imposed exile to avoid prison for a string of convictions that critics contend are politically motivated—will be nominated as prime minister if the party wins the election, they said.
They did not explain how he could take up the post if he is not on the ballot.
Eight parties in the race
Among the five political parties that won approval to run in the July 28 polls are Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the royalist Funcinpec Party.
The CPP and Funcinpec, which submitted their candidate lists earlier this month, received approval alongside three smaller parties. Another two lesser known parties are awaiting approval alongside the CNRP.
Sam Rainsy, 63, who has been living in self-imposed exile in France since 2009, faces a total of 11 years in prison if he returns to Cambodia.
Since the NEC said in November he could not stand in the elections because of the prison convictions, Sam Rainsy has called Hun Sen a “coward” for barring him from the polls and argued that the elections will not be “free and fair” if he is not allowed to run.
Hun Sen, 61, has ruled the country for 28 years and vowed last week to stay in power until he’s 74.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.