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No Push Yet To Have a Returned Sam Rainsy Run for Office

Authorities are accusing Buth Sokhorn, 31, a supporter of the Rescue Party, of taking part in the violence.
PHNOM PENH - The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has not yet submitted the name of party president Sam Rainsy to be a candidate in the July 28 election.

Sam Rainsy is expected to return from nearly four years in exile on Friday, following a royal pardon last week. But election officials say he is not eligible to run for office, despite the pardon.

“We must apply the law,” Im Soursdey, president of the NEC, told VOA Khmer Wednesday.

Opposition officials said Thursday they will meet following Sam Rainsy’s return to decide whether and how to push for his candidacy for office.

Koul Panha, executive director of the election watchdog Comfrel, said a run by Sam Rainsy for office will require “political discussions” between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the Rescue Party.

Donors and election observers say they want the Cambodian government to ensure free and fair elections, especially through the implementation of 18 recommendations made by the UN’s special rights envoy to Cambodia, including allowing the participation of Sam Rainsy in the political process.

“We encourage the Cambodian government to continue implementing recommendations by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia aimed at free and fair elections,” US Embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh told VOA Khmer.

Meanwhile, the opposition says it is continuing to face political intimidation in the run-up to the election.

Authorities in Kandal province detained an opposition party activist on charges of violence, following a rally there were opposition and ruling party supporters clashed on Monday.

Three people were injured when competing groups of campaigners for the rival parties clashed outside the capital, in the province where Prime Minister Hun Sen is a candidate for the upcoming election.

Authorities are accusing Buth Sokhorn, 31, a supporter of the Rescue Party, of taking part in the violence.

Officials from the Rescue Party say he is being targeted for arrest because of his political affiliation.

“The ruling party is abusing us,” said Eng Chhay Ieng, a Rescue Party candidate for Kandal province. The violence took place when CPP supporters sought to block a rally by the opposition, he said.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said the arrests were not considered under the purview of the election agency.