PHNOM PENH - Officials for the new opposition say they will appoint Sam Rainsy as candidate for premier, despite his exile, if they are victorious in July’s election.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party, which held a meeting in Singapore this week, will make Kem Sokha, currently the head of the minority opposition, the National Assembly president, if it wins a majority in the parliamentary polls.
Sam Rainsy remains in exile abroad, found guilty on a number of criminal charges that make him ineligible to run in the July election.
That means he is also not legally eligible for the premier seat, political analyst Lao Mong Hay told VOA Khmer. “If his party wins the election, he still cannot be a candidate for prime minister, according to constitutional law,” he said.
Nevertheless, opposition officials believe a political settlement can be found to clear the way for Sam Rainsy’s return to politics, Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, told VOA Khmer.
US diplomats and other international and local observers say he should be allowed to contest the elections if they are to be considered free and fair.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan dismissed the opposition’s announcement as a political stunt, aimed at strengthening its negotiation for power sharing.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, meanwhile, has maintained there will be no political solution for Sam Rainsy, whose case remains a matter for the courts.