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Media Access Uneven in Upcoming Campaign Period: Monitors

A Cambodian People's Party poster hangs on a wall outside a business as a woman offers prayers to Buddhist Monks, file photo. At least 10 parties have registered for elections, which will be held across 1,633 communes next month. This Friday will mark the

As 10 parties prepare to kick off campaigning for local polls next month, election monitors say they see a concerning disparity in access to mass media and other continued irregularities.

The official 15-day campaign period begins Friday, but Koul Panha, head of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said smaller parties have little ability to use TV or radio to get their messages across.

The Cambodian People’s Party dominates the airwaves, and other parties have long complained that its hold on media, especially television, imbalances the election process.

“There is a big gap between parties in their ability to use mass media, especially TV and radio,” Koul Panha said.

Chan Yet, vice president of the Democratic Republican Party, which has candidates in six provinces, said his members are “disappointed” in their lack of media access.

“We don’t have the resources to deliver our political platform and our activities,” he said.

Koul Panha said other irregularities are still a problem.

Soldiers, police and military police have been seen helping campaign for members of the ruling CPP party, he said, which is against the law. “Armed forces must stay neutral,” he said.

Tep Nitha said there were no remarkable irregularities reported.

Comfrel will deploy more than 5,000 monitors for the June 3 polls. Added to that will be 3,000 from the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections.