A minor political party is suing the leader of Cambodia’s main opposition for telling voters ahead of next year’s general election that casting a ballot for a minor party was a wasted vote.
Pich Sros, the president of the Cambodian Youth Party, which won no seats in the June 4 local elections, said he had filed a complaint against Kem Sokha, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, claiming he “incited discrimination against political parties”.
Sros did not explain which law he is alleging Sokha broke in what is often considered a normal part of campaigning in a democracy.
“There are 12 political parties in total. However, there are only two who can form a government. What about the other parties? I filed the lawsuit not to destroy the party [CNRP] but I want Mr. Kem Sokha to be held accountable in front of the law,” he said.
Yim Sovann, CNRP spokesman, said that if Sros had an issue with the comments he should have raised them with Sokha, rather than pursuing legal action.
Sokha made the comments in question at a party meeting in Baray district, Kampong Thom province, on June 12.
Ou Virak, president of the Future Forum, a think tank, said the lawsuit was “unreasonable and impossible”.
“In general, campaigning includes persuading people not to vote for the other parties ... this is a simple and necessary part of campaigning,” he said.
“It’s an unreasonable lawsuit and the court will reject it.”
The ruling Cambodian People’s Party won the majority of commune councils at the recent local elections, on June 4. But the CNRP increased its vote share and won more than ten times as many seats as it had held since the last elections in 2012.