Two minor political parties have accepted an offer from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party to assume seats vacated by the opposition if the country’s top court rules it should be dissolved.
The parties accepting the offer are Funcinpec and the Cambodian Nationality Party (CNP), while the League for Democracy Party (LDP) declined to take part in the deal.
The Supreme Court is preparing to rule on whether the Cambodia National Rescue Party broke the law after its president was charged with treason.
Under proposed amendments to the political parties law approved by the CPP, the CNRP could be dissolved and its seats in parliament, the Senate and local authorities handed to other parties.
Nhep Bun Chin, Funcinpec vice president, said the party accepted the offer knowing it would be open to criticism. “Criticism is a normal thing,” he said. “It is the law. If the law states that the seats go to the Funcinpec Party, I can’t decline the offer. I apologize. If someone offers you a million dollars, and the money is legal, should we not accept it?”
Seng Sokheng, president of the CNP, echoed Bun Chin’s comments.
Kov Kea, a LDP spokesperson, said the party had declined the offer because it wanted to win the popular vote, not be handed seats it had not won at the ballot box.
“The seats belong to the Cambodia National Rescue Party,” he said.
On Tuesday, the CNRP’s senators issued a statement saying they would reject the proposed amendments that could see them out of a job.
The U.S. State Department on Monday said it was “deeply concerned” by parliament’s approval of the amendments.
Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman, said in the statement that if ratified, the amendments, in conjunction with the lawsuit by the Cambodian Ministry of Interior to dissolve the CNRP, would “effectively disenfranchise the millions of people who voted for the CNRP in the 2013 and 2017 elections.”
Sok Eysan, a CPP spokesman, said that Cambodia would not heed “foreign pressure to abide by things like the U.N. Charter”.