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Cambodian King Heads to China as Gov’t Prepares to Amend Controversial Law


Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni, center, greets his government officials upon his arrival for the water festival in front of Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016.

The planned amendments, which would ban the opposition from associating with its former leader, Sam Rainsy, were due to be passed on Tuesday.

Political observers in Cambodia have said that King Norodom Sihanmoni’s decision to leave the country for a health checkup was timed to avoid signing controversial amendments to the political parties law.

The planned amendments, which would ban the opposition from associating with its former leader, Sam Rainsy, were due to be passed on Tuesday.

In March, the law was amended to block people with criminal convictions from leading political parties, leading Rainsy, who was convicted years ago for defamation, to resign from the Cambodia National Rescue Party.

King Sihamoni also left the country as the previous set of amendments were due to be passed in a move seen as a deliberate move to keep his signature off the controversial legislation.

Meas Ny, a political analyst, however, said “we have no idea how the king perceives the amendments, but once the amendments are signed and put into practice, it will lead to constitutional conflict.”

Ou Virak, founder of the Future Forum think tank, said the King’s departure could be intended to avoid signing the legislation, but the move would have no effect on the adoption of the law as in his absence the changes would be signed off on by a member of the constitutional council.

“The Constitutional Council has an essential role. If one does not trust the constitutional council, there is no need to form one,” he said.

Oum Daravuth, royal spokesperson, could not be reached.

The Constitutional Council will meet to pass the amendments on Tuesday.

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