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CPP workers break attempt to break the gate locks of the Stung Meanchey commune office. Photo supplied

CNRP official called in over hiring assistants

A Phnom Penh opposition commune chief was questioned by local officials on Monday for employing assistants to work in the commune hall, which is allowed by law, as well as for an incident on Sunday where the office was locked by his deputy, hindering the current voter registration process.

Since the commune elections in June, a handful of incoming Cambodia National Rescue Party commune chiefs have dealt with what the party says is administrative harassment and non-cooperation from local Cambodian People’s Party officials, with new chiefs across the country frequently facing off with their ruling party colleagues, sometimes over trivial matters.

Doeuk Chhang, the CNRP chief of Stung Meanchey 1 commune, was called in by district officials on Monday after he handed over the commune hall keys to his deputy, who locked the office and left for a short period. When National Election Committee (NEC) officials arrived at the hall, they were unable to get in.

“They called me on Monday and asked me to stop that kind of problem again and I already agreed with them,” he said.

Additionally, he said he was entitled to have assistants according to the commune administration law and was perplexed as to why he had been asked to dismiss them.

Huy Virak, the district’s director of administration, said the scolding was just to inform Chhang of the inconvenience it caused NEC officials. “We just called him to give a verbal warning as it was an obstacle to the registration, but if the Commune Election Committee thinks that they want to make a complaint it’s their right.”