Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Constitutional Council Upholds NEC Ban Against Two Candlelight Officials

People vote at a polling station in Phnom Penh on July 23, 2023. (CamboJA/Pring Samrang)
People vote at a polling station in Phnom Penh on July 23, 2023. (CamboJA/Pring Samrang)

The Constitutional Council of Cambodia (CCC) on Monday upheld a ban on two Candlelight Party officials from running for elected office for ten years for inciting spoiled ballots. They will also have to pay a $2,400 fine each.

The CCC stated that its trial chamber received an appeal filed on July 28 from lawyers representing Ly Menghorng, Koh Sotin district’s Kampong Cham province Candlelight Party secretary and Yan Sokhoeun, a Tboung Khmum province Candlelight activist.

Menghorng, who had planned to run as a candidate for National Assembly before his party was barred from participating in the July 23 elections, said he was frustrated at being blocked from running in future elections.

“I am very sorry that I am a Cambodian citizen, Cambodian law does not give me justice at all, my past efforts and struggles are gone,” Menghorng. “I thought I would receive justice, I never imagined something like this would happen.”

Sokhoeun could not be reached for comment.

At least 38 opposition members, many living overseas, have faced bans on running for office over inciting spoiled ballots this election.

Menghorng previously told CamboJA that the NEC submitted a complaint due to two Facebook posts he made earlier that month in which he stated that he could not join in campaigning because the Candlelight party was removed from the ballot. He called for others to spoil their ballots but later removed the posts, he said.

CCC spokesperson Taing Ratana could not be reached for comment.

NEC spokesperson Hang Puthea also said the NEC would release preliminary election results on August 1, four days earlier than originally scheduled. 

Parties will have several days to file and resolve any potential complaints related to the election results, before results are finalized on August 5.

“There is no division into seats yet, but I can tell you that the CPP is leading and then the Funcinpec party,” Puthea said. 

The CPP has said it won 120 seats, while Funcinpec has said it won the remaining five seats in the 125 National Assembly, according to initial party calculations.

CPP spokesperson Sok Eysan said there is no change in the elections’ result since the CPP declared it had received 82.50% of the vote, equivalent to more than 6 million people.

There were also more than 400,000 ballots spoiled as a result of a campaign in protest of the elections, which barred the leading opposition Candlelight Party from participating.