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GDP Debates Campaigning on Kem Ley Assassination


The Grassroot Democratic Party (GDP) is listed as number 7 on the ballot for the upcoming national election, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, May 29, 2018. (Khan Sokummono/ VOA Khmer)

The party says it is concerned with drawing the ire of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, whose leadership has been accused of being behind the killing.

The party co-founded by a prominent political analyst who was assassinated two years ago is considering placing his murder at the forefront of its election campaign.

But the Grassroots Democracy Party (GDP) says it is concerned with drawing the ire of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, whose leadership has been accused of being behind the killing.

Sam Inn, the GDP’s secretary general, said the party was taking the “proper time to consult and discuss” the issue and was also hearing legal opinions.

Ley was an outspoken critic of political corruption and abuse of power. Evidence uncovered by journalists in the aftermath of his killing pointed to a cover-up by the authorities and the involvement of the military, but the courts convicted a lone gunman for his murder and failed to investigate several leads, prompting allegations of a conspiracy.

Inn said the party, for which Ley had campaigned prior to his assassination, was unsure how the government and election body would respond to campaigning that highlighted Ley’s killing.

“We will continue to show the reality that happened to Dr. Kem Ley. We will not deviate from the truth,” he said.

Sok Eysan, a CPP spokesman, declined to comment on the legalities of the GDP using Ley’s assassination as part of its political campaigning.

He said Ley’s killing was an “unusual act” that the party felt “regretful”, but said that shootings also take place in other countries and “narrow-minded” people ignored gun crime in the United States and elsewhere in an attempt to make Cambodia look bad.

General Khieu Sopheak, interior ministry spokesman, declined to comment.

Hang Puthea, a spokesman for the National Election Committee, said the body would follow the GDP’s campaign closely to “see whether the campaign ... will be in line with the code of ethics or not.”

Both the CPP and GDP have fielded candidates across the country in the upcoming general election.

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