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Lawmaker Demands Kratie Radio Reopen

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay has written a request to the Ministry of Information asking that a provincial radio station be allowed to return to the airwaves.

Angkor Ratha radio was shuttered by the ministry May 28, for breach of contract.

It had sold airtime for five political parties competing in July's elections, contrary to its initial agreement with the ministry.

Rights officials say such agreements inhibit press freedom, in an environment where the ruling party controls much of the media.

In his letter to Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, delivered through National Assembly Chairman Heng Samrin, Son Chhay said he would seek to administratively discipline the minister for violation of the press law and constitution if the radio was not allowed to begin broadcasting within a week.

Failure to allow the station to reopen by then would result in a commission hearing, where the minister would be required to defend his decision, Son Chhay said.

Angkor Ratha station owner Keo Chanratha acknowledged Thursday he had broken his contractual agreement, which required he request from the ministry permission to broadcast political party messages.

Kuol Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said the closure of the radio station would cause the voters to lose information about the competing political parties.

Khieu Kanhrith said Thursday he stood by his decision to close the station.