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Officials to Grill Opposition Over New Leader Appointment

CNRP President Kem Sokha addresses the party’s congress, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 2, 2017. (Aun Chhengpor/VOA Khmer)

Kem Sokha was selected by CNRP to assume the presidency following the departure of Sam Rainsy in February.

Officials will meet with opposition leaders in late March to discuss the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s recent selection of Kem Sokha to replace its former leader, Sam Rainsy.

Sokha’s selection at an extraordinary party congress held on March 2 was opposed by the government, which claims the CNRP breached its party rules in scheduling the congress.

The Interior Ministry on March 22 issued a statement claiming the CNRP internal rules mandate an 18-month waiting period before the selection of a new leader, although it did not explain why this discrepancy was of relevance to the government as the rules are not legally binding.

Rainsy, the former leader, resigned in February amid legal pressure.

Khieu Sopheak, Interior Ministry spokesman, said the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the government could file a lawsuit against the CNRP if it was found that the selection of Sokha was “inconsistent” with party policy.

CNRP representatives could not be reached for comment.

The government is also arguing that the CNRP must change its election slogan, which was also determined at the congress and calls for commune chiefs “who serve the party” to be replaced with candidates “who serve the people”.

The government contends that the slogan is “incitement”.