The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has said it will not attend a parliamentary session next Monday to debate new amendments to the political parties law.
Eng Chhay Eang, a senior CNRP lawmaker, said the proposed amendments, which would attempt to further restrict the ability of former CNRP president Sam Rainsy to influence the political debate, were intended to increase the ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s grip on power.
He said the CNRP had decided not to attend the session on Monday because “the intention of the new rules is to narrow the CNRP’s path [to election victory].”
“However, the Cambodia National Rescue Party will try to reach our goal. Our goal is to bring change through elections. Therefore, we will do whatever it takes to win the election.”
The CPP is seeking to stop promoting audio, visual or written material produced by people with criminal records, a crime that could lead to the party’s dissolution.
Despite resigning from the party after amendments were made to the political parties law in early 2017 to stop Rainsy leading the party, the former leader played an important role in advocating for the CNRP via Facebook and radio appearances during the campaign.
Chheang Vun, a senior CPP lawmaker, compared the Cambodian situation to attempts to overthrow the Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
“If there is an issue, the nation will be affected and divided. So to avoid the chaos, Prime Minister Hun Sen ... has a duty to protect the party’s achievements,” he said.
Rainsy went into exile in France after a defamation ruling was revived in 2015 that could have seen him spend two years in jail. He was later charged in a separate defamation case for allegedly implicating Hun Sen’s government in the murder of Kem Ley, an outspoken political commentator.