A draft amendment that would see politicians with criminal records barred from leading political parties inched closer to passing on Monday as parliament’s permanent committee submitted a proposal drafted by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
The opposition party lodged a disagreement and requested consideration of the proposal be postponed.
The proposal was rushed through parliament amid an opposition boycott of proceedings in response to ongoing political tensions and legal proceedings against its leadership.
Yem Ponharith, a CNRP lawmaker, told reporters after the meeting at the National Assembly on Monday that making the amendment should involve cross-party discussion.
“Up until now, relevant parties have not been consulted in open and public discussions,” he said.
He added that the election law already mandates against politicians being able to run for office if they hold criminal convictions.
Chheang Vun, a CPP spokesman, said the party would not postpone consideration of the draft amendment because it was “needed in such a political situation”.
“The ruling party has enough votes to amend any law without the approval of other parties,” he added, referring to the CPP’s majority in parliament.
“That’s how it works when you’re the winning party. We know that we have enough votes to amend the law.”
The political parties law was adopted in 1997. Cambodia currently has about 70 political parties, while only two hold seats in parliament.
Sourn Serei Ratha, president of the Khmer Power Party, said the unilateral actions by the CPP “will undermine basic freedom of citizens.”
“The law does not tackle problems in Khmer society. Therefore, I do not support it. If the amendment is approved, the law will violate the political rights of the Khmer people across the nation,” he said.