(Phnom Penh): – The National Election Committee (NEC) has finally issued its decision not to register the Candlelight Party for participating in the upcoming election of the 7th legislature’s members of the National Assembly after the party failed to complete the paperwork as required by law on May 15, 2023. The NEC said the reason behind its rejection is that the Candlelight Party had not provided a copy of Prakas on political party registration issued by the Ministry of Interior – and duly certified by the Capital/Province/Municipality/District and Khan Administration One-Window Office Service – as prescribed in Paragraph 2, Point 1 in Article 27 of the Law on National Assembly Elections. Then, whose fault is it?

  1. The Candlelight Party has disregarded the legal process and acted with contempt towards the prevailing laws while banking its hope on foreign intervention, pressure, and threat to be applied against the NEC as a law enforcement agency to allow it to register to compete in the election. The May 12 press release was evidence proving that the leaders of the Candlelight Party did not use the legal means but rather resorted to violence contrary to the rule of law.
  1. As a political party, why is the Candlelight Party so incapable of preserving a piece of document that is so important for it? If you cannot even manage to maintain a sheet of paper document, what capability do you have left to lead and manage the affairs of the nation? The Ministry of Interior has confirmed that the Candlelight Party is, indeed, registered in the list of political parties at the Ministry of Interior in accordance with the Law on Political Parties, but was not a declaration of the party's legitimacy. The NEC only complies with the law, but that [registration] does not constitute a proclamation of party’s legality at all. The NEC is merely playing by the book, but it is the Candlelight Party that is not.
  1. Internal divisions within the leadership and the lack of unity to fix the shortcomings are the main problems the Candlelight Party is currently experiencing. In just 48 hours, the leaders of the Candlelight Party issued press release and letter in three separate instances, which lacked clarity in their position and showed how immature they are. On May 12, the Candlelight Party issued a statement warning that it would assembly its leaders, members, activists and supporters across the country to stage a peaceful protest in case the Candlelight Party is denied registration for the 7th National Assembly Election in 2023. On May 13, the President of the Candlelight Party sent a letter to Samdech Techo Hun Sen to pay a courtesy call and congratulate him on the success in hosting the SEA Games in Cambodia. On May 14, the Candlelight Party issued a statement expressing its regret over the wrong decision it made the May 12 letter. Mr. Son Chhay, Vice President of the Candlelight Party, said that there was disagreement among the party leadership and that, as a result, various statements have been without due consultation with each other and often in contradiction to the spirit of the [party] congress. In an interview with RFI, Son Chhay said, “Do not be disappointed if the opposition is unable to participate in the election, because [if so] it is partly the party’s own fault.”
  1. The successive departure of the party’s high-ranking officials manifests that a serious rift is playing out within the Candlelight Party, where one faction – with three-generational convicted traitors behind its back – harbors intention of resorting to violence to seize power by executing foreign-hatched plans. It is its abuse and disrespect for the law that have resulted in the Candlelight Party being denied by the NEC the registration to take part in the upcoming 7th legislative election.

So, whose fault is it? The leaders of the Candlelight Party themselves are the ones to blame for being irresponsible to take care of their own documents. [Instead of acknowledging their own screwup], they remain arrogant and point their fingers at others while airing their grievances with foreigners to apply pressure on Khmer nation. Now they are victims of their own arrogance.

The NEC’s refusal to register the Candlelight Party for the 7th National Assembly election in 2023 was based purely on the legal error committed by the party. Therefore, politicization of such a legal error was called for. If you want to blame, blame the Candlelight Party’s leaders for their incompetence and irresponsibility to create chaos that only bring them self-destruction and land their supporters in prison. Wickedness and ignorant leadership never prevail, and no heavenly angels can fix that.

According to the law, the Candlelight Party has the right to appeal to the Constitutional Council against the NEC’s ruling. It is hoped that the Constitutional Council will render justice to the political parties that play by the book.

By: Chao Chak Smok

Phnom Penh, May 15, 2023