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Incoming Opposition Council Chiefs Locked Out on First Day at Work


Khim Montha, 58, the newly-elected CNRP commune chief talks to VOA Khmer in Sraah Chak commune, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 9, 2017.(Chhun Bunchhai/VOA Khmer)

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party won 489 out of 1,646 commune chief positions in the June 4 election.

A ruling Cambodian People’s Party official who was defeated at the local elections last month has refused to hand over his office to the victorious opposition candidate, according to the winner.

Khim Montha, 58, said that Chhay Thearith, 67, who is now the deputy commune chief of Sraah Chak commune in Phnom Penh, after losing to Montha, said Thearith had changed the locks and signage without informing her.

“I am supposed to have my own office for the first day at work, but when I arrived at the office the room was locked and the sign changed to say deputy commune chief,” she said.

Thearith declined to comment.

Two other incoming opposition commune chiefs reported experiencing similar lockouts.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party won 489 out of 1,646 commune chief positions in the June 4 election.

Mu Sochua, a senior CNRP lawmaker, called for calm on the issue.

“We must prioritize serving people, cooperating with other parties within the same commune council,” she said.

Sok Eysan, ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman, called on elected officials to work together and said he was “optimistic” that rival politicians could find common ground.

Sam Kuntheamy of elections monitor Nicfec, said: “Old commune chiefs should welcome the new commune chiefs.”

He added that NGOs such as Nicfec could provide training to commune councilors.

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