NEC files defamation suit against Candlelight Party’s No2

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Candlelight Party vice-president Son Chhay Heng Chivoan

The National Election Committee (NEC) on June 17 officially lodged lawsuit against Candlelight Party vice-president Son Chhay for alleged “public defamation” regarding Chhay’s remarks in a June 7 interview on the “Idea Talk” podcast hosted by US-based Khmer-language online media outlet Cambodia Daily.

During the interview, Chhay alleged that the June 5 commune elections “did not reflect the will of the people” and was marred by “threats, vote-buying and rigging”. He claimed that, on the day of the vote, some incumbent commune chiefs “were taking note” of voters and that armed forces were “moving around, causing fear”.

“It is not right, it is not just, and the NEC is not independent, and the result does not rightly reflect the will of the people,” he said.

The complaint was lodged by NEC deputy secretary-general Som Sorida and member Dim Sovannarom at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

The complaint letter, obtained by The Post, underscored that Chhay had “misled the public” with his remarks.

“Such a claim seriously affects the NEC, which has to fulfil its mission with independence and neutrality, to ensure that the elections go freely, genuinely, justly and in accordance with the principle of multi-party democracy.

NEC requested the court penalise Chhay for “public defamation”, invoking Article 305 of the Criminal Code, and demanded he issue an apology in a publicly released letter.

According to the Criminal Code, defamation is punishable by a fine between 100,000 and 10 million riel ($25 and $2,500).