Three members of Cambodia’s national election body have resigned in protest at the dissolution of the country’s main opposition party.
Kuoy Bunroeun, deputy president of the National Election Committee (NEC), and NEC members Rong Chhun and Te Manirong resigned in a letter dated Monday.
They cited their refusal to accept the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party by the Supreme Court last week as the reason for their decision to step down.
Following the court’s decision, the CNRP’s parliamentary seats and its positions in local government and the senate will be distributed among other political parties, with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party of Prime Minister Hun Sen benefiting substantially from the ruling ahead of a crucial general election next year.
The resignees said the redistribution of seats was unconstitutional and violated election laws and the will of the Cambodian people.
“Based on the above reasons and facts, we the deputy president and members of the NEC ... can’t continue to work in this election body anymore because it betrays our wisdom and conscience and the will of the electorate; it will be viewed badly by history,” they said.
The Supreme Court in a hearing presided over by a judge-drawn from the ruling party ruled on Thursday that the CNRP would be dissolved and 118 of its members banned from politics for five years for allegedly conspiring with foreigners to overthrow the government.
Shortly after the ruling was announced, Hun Sen lent his support to the decision and called on CNRP officials to defect to his party.
Chhun, former president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA), said he took the decision to “respect the will of more than three million people, about half the population of the Kingdom.”
Hang Puthea, NEC spokesman, could not be reached for comment, but Leng Penglong, National Assembly spokesman, said parliament would quickly replace the officials.
European and American governments have issued statements condemning the dissolution of the CNRP and have suggested that preferential trade arrangements could be affected by the decision, as well as the flow of foreign aid, on which Cambodia has relied on for decades to bolster its economic growth.