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Opposition Begins Long Wait for New Leader


Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, walks with opposition Cambodia Rescue Party Deputy President Kem Sokha, left, during a break at National Assembly in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, walks with opposition Cambodia Rescue Party Deputy President Kem Sokha, left, during a break at National Assembly in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.

Kem Sokha, formerly the deputy president, took over the post temporarily until the next party conference in 2018 when a new leader will be chosen.

An opposition lawmaker has said that the Cambodia National Rescue Party has not yet found a suitable replacement for its former president Sam Rainsy.

Rainsy resigned from the party on Saturday as the ruling Cambodian People’s Party prepared to introduce an amendment to the law governing political parties that could have led to the CNRP’s dissolution if he had remained its leader.

Kem Sokha, formerly the deputy president, took over the post temporarily until the next party conference in 2018 when a new leader will be chosen.

The draft amendment would make it illegal for a person with a criminal conviction to lead a political party.

Rainsy has been sentenced in a defamation case and would face prison if he returned from self-imposed exile in France.

Yim Sovann, a CNRP lawmaker, said following a party meeting on Sunday that “the party hasn’t made any decision regarding who should be elected to replace the position”.

“We are not an autocratic party where such a decision can be made by one individual. There are mechanisms in our decision-making process,” he added.

Rainsy has been accused of defamation by Prime Minister Hun Sen, Heng Samrin, president of the National Assembly, and was convicted of defamation in a case brought by the former minister of foreign affairs, Hor Namhong.

The CPP will meet this month to pass the amendment to the political parties law.

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