Slogan neither official, nor illegal, CNRP says

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CNRP president Kem Sokha and (from left) deputies Pol Ham, Mu Sochua and Eng Chhay Eang raise hands at a CNRP extraordinary party congress to confirm its new leadership. Pha Lina

The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) will neither officially use a political slogan that has raised the ire of the ruling party nor ban local officials from using it, senior officials said yesterday.

CNRP deputy presidents Mu Sochua and Eng Chhay Eang said yesterday that the party congress never endorsed the slogan “replace commune chiefs who serve the party with commune chiefs who serve the people” making it unnecessary to amend it.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party has characterised the slogan as “incitement” and threatened to take legal action as a result, with dozens of CPP commune chiefs releasing statements condemning it.

Sochua said the party “never spread the slogan”, but added that there was no law under which the CPP could ban it. “The slogan is just a slogan,” she said.

This position was echoed by Chhay Eang. “Whoever wants to use the slogan, go ahead,” he said. “The party does not urge anyone that you must use or must not use the slogan.”

He added that if the catchphrase were not a reflection of local sentiment then it would not be used. Furthermore, he said, even if a court were to ask the party to change it, the CNRP would be unable to do so as the slogan did not fall under its official policy.

Reached yesterday, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said this meant the CNRP did not want to withdraw the slogan. “We have not yet had any specific reason to believe” that they won’t use it, Eysan said, adding that the CPP would file a complaint if the slogan continued to be used.