PHNOM PENH —
The ruling party will hold a meeting by the end of the month to pass an amendment to a law that would bar people with a criminal record from leading political parties, an official said.
Leng Peng Long, a National Assembly spokesman, said last week that the Cambodian People’s Party’s 68 MPs would proceed “as soon as possible.”
Sok Eysan, a CPP spokesman, said the party was studying the proposed changes and had requested an extraordinary parliamentary session so that the amendment could be tabled.
“The law is not suitable to the new situation so it is necessary to request an amendment. Moreover, it has been over two decades and the delay will not yield us anything since the election is approaching soon; therefore, it needs to be accelerated as soon as possible,” he said.
Sam Rainsy, the former leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, stepped down on Saturday ahead of the passage of the amendment, which could have led to the CNRP’s dissolution if he had stayed in the position.
Rainsy has been convicted of defaming the former foreign minister, Hor Namhong, and faces similar charges from Hun Sen and Heng Samrin, the National Assembly president.
Numerous other CNRP leaders have been targeted by lawsuits in recent months, including the new acting CNRP president, Kem Sokha.
Eng Chhay Eang, a CNRP spokesman, said the amendment was unconstitutional.
“As long as the people support us, the CNRP will not worry about the amendment of the law on political parties while the other institutes believe that it would affect the opposition party.”
Yeung Sotheara, a legal observer with election monitoring group Comfrel, said the amendment would “undermine fair competition” and could lead to “chaos in the future”.