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Conviction a threat to CNRP

The Cambodian National Rescue Party is one step closer to its ambition of running in next year’s election after it was approved by the Ministry of Interior last week, but the newly formed opposition party faces more hurdles if self-exiled party co-founder Sam Rainsy is to lead it.

In an official letter signed by Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng, the CNRP was told its request to register as a political entity had been given the green light and could now be considered for registration in the next election by the National Election Committee.

Headquartered on street 1972 in Phnom Penh Thmey’s commune of the capital’s Sen Sok district, the CNRP must now fulfil the requirements of the country’s Political Party Law.

“To achieve validity, the National Rescue Party must complete the forms and conditions as stated in Article 20, Chapter 5 of the law on political parties,” Sar Kheng’s letter stated.

This includes registering party officials and members.

Tep Nytha, secretary-general of National Election Committee, said he welcomed the newly formed CNRP, but it could not be recognised if the party’s head candidate was a convicted criminal.

“So, if such a case arrived at the NEC … [we] have the right to cancel the name from the candidate list.”

CNRP representative Pol Ham would only say that Sam Rainsy’s leadership was being discussed but that the first step of approval meant the Ministry of Interior had complied with the formation of the new party and that a CNRP emblem would soon be released, vowing the party would have no trouble collecting the thumbprints of 4,000 members.

Koul Panha, executive director for the Committee of Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said the new party would be challenged to raise funds and educate voters about its policies before the 2013 poll.

“Because if they had merged, everything could be brought together, but this [the Cambodian National Rescue Party] is not a merger. I think that is the challenge,” he said.

As well as funds, which NRP reports on its website to have reached $51,000 since the party was announced, Koul said the new party could find it hard to make its presence felt in logos and visual campaigns.

“It’s not easy,” he said. “They’ll face some conflict or severe arguments to put their logos up.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Meas Sokchea and Rosa Ellen at newsroom@phnompenhpost.com

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