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Dual citizenship for lawmakers attacked

Legistation should be amended to prohibit elected officials from taking office if they hold dual citizenship, according to senior Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap.

Yeap on Monday said that the office of prime minister should be reserved exclusively for Cambodian nationals, but yesterday expanded the call to include all elected lawmakers.

“For the seat of the prime minister and for lawmakers, they should have only Cambodian citizenship in order to ensure their loyalty,” he said.

Yeap admitted that some CPP elected officials hold dual citizenship, but said he was unaware of the exact number.

“I am not sure how many CPP officials hold dual citizenship, but I know it is not many.”

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party yesterday hit back at Yeap’s comments, saying that a more pressing issue the CPP should look at was illegal immigration.

Yim Sovann, CNRP spokesman, said that the granting of economic land concessions to “foreigners” and the flow of immigrants from abroad should be a higher priority.

“I think the CPP should pay attention to illegal immigrants … and human rights abuses,” he said. “Foreigners come here to control the land, [the government gives] 99-year land concessions to the foreigners. This is the real issue.”

Sok Sam Oeun of the Cambodian Defenders Project pointed to the apparent hypocrisy of a senior CPP official making such a statement, when elected CPP representatives hold foreign passports. “If they pass this law, it’s against the unity of all Khmer people. What about the former prime minister exiled in another country? Do they commit a crime?” he asked.

“I think many CPP [officials hold dual citizenship]. Chheang Vun is also from abroad. He holds two nationalities. I think [Minister of Commerce] Sun Chantol [is] also from abroad.”

Sovann said that the CNRP would not pay much attention to the statement made by Yeap.

“[Our goal] is not about dual citizenship, it’s about fighting corruption. We need to find a way to peacefully resolve the deadlock,” he said.”

Sam Oeun said: “If they want to propose this, I think they should also propose the prime minister only has two terms.”

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