The Interior Ministry has warned the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party that it could face legal action over the appointment of a new leader in early March.
Kem Sokha, the former CNRP deputy president, was appointed to the presidency at an extraordinary party congress on March 2 following the resignation of Sam Rainsy.
Rainsy had resigned in anticipation of the passage of amendments to the law governing political parties that could have seen the CNRP dissolved if he stayed in the position due to his criminal record in Cambodia.
The government now says it could use the political parties law against the CNRP, which it says violated its own rules in appointing Sokha.
Bun Hun, deputy secretary of state at the Interior Ministry, told reporters on Thursday that the CNRP’s rules state, that as there is less than 18 months remaining in the current government mandate, a new leader should not have been appointed officially, but rather an acting president should have assumed Rainsy’s duties.
Under the amended political parties law, this minor technical infraction could lead to further legal action.
“We will consider the next legal actions after we have told the CNRP. So we will check to what extent the political parties law allows us [to pursue legal action],” Hun said.
Eng Chhay Eang, one of three CNRP deputy presidents who were elected at the same time as Sokha, said that party would do what it could to comply with the amended law. “Even though we did not support the law, we did not take part in adopting it, but when it’s in effect, we must obey the law,” he said.
“The law is above the party rules, so the party will do everything possible to comply with the law.”