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Members of Parliament Call for Further Changes to Political Parties Law


Parliament members, officers and supporters of the Cambodian National Rescue Party gather to commemorate the victims of the 1997 grenade attack in Wat Botum park, Phnom Penh, Wednesday March 30, 2016. (Leng Len/VOA Khmer)

The political parties law was amended before the election to block people with criminal records from leading political parties.

More than 30 ruling Cambodian People’s Party lawmakers have requested further amendments to the Law on Political Parties following a call from Prime Minister Hun Sen to change the law in the aftermath of losses in local elections last month.

Chheang Vun, a senior CPP lawmaker, confirmed a group of CPP members of parliament had made the request.

Sok Eysan, CPP spokesman, said the request was sent to the legal and judicial affairs commission in parliament for review.

The changes are thought to be in response to the former president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, Sam Rainsy, who despite resigning from the party played a vocal role in gaining support for the CNRP during the campaign period.

“He always causes trouble, so I think he has the genetics of betrayal from his father,” Eysan said, referring to Rainsy’s father, Sam Sary, who participated in the so-called Bangkok Plot against then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk in 1959.

The political parties law was amended before the election to block people with criminal records from leading political parties. Rainsy resigned from the party to prevent its possible dissolution under the new rules, but it is not clear how further amendments could prevent Rainsy, who lives in exile in France, from participating in the democratic process.

“If it’s not clear, we have to make it clear whether a convicted person can attach themselves to politics or not,” Eysan said.

Rainsy was convicted in a defamation case in 2008 filed by the then-foreign minister, Hor Namhong.

Pol Ham, CNRP deputy president, and Yim Sovann, a party spokesman, could not be reached.

International observers labeled the amendments to the political parties law in early 2017 as a threat to democracy in Cambodia.

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