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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NEC reiterates Rainsy’s ineligibility

Cambodia National Rescue Party supporters celebrate the Royal pardon of opposition leader Sam Rainsy at a CNRP campaign rally
Cambodia National Rescue Party supporters celebrate the royal pardon of opposition leader Sam Rainsy at a CNRP campaign rally in Takhmao, Kandal province, last week. HENG CHIOAN

NEC reiterates Rainsy’s ineligibility

Seeking to clear up any misunderstandings, the National Election Committee issued a statement yesterday explaining why opposition leader Sam Rainsy could not be added to the voter or candidate lists, while a senior official separately offered a similar explanation in a Council of Ministers press conference.

“The election candidate list that NEC has finalised cannot be changed,” reads the statement issued by NEC yesterday, which explains that the decision to remove Rainsy’s name last year was done in accordance with the law, and that the appeal date had passed.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party president saw his name stripped from both the voter and candidate lists in light of his multiple convictions on a raft of charges popularly believed to have been politically motivated. Last week, the self-exiled politician was granted a Royal pardon, overturning his 11-year prison sentence and paving the way for his return on Friday; but the pardon makes no stipulations allowing him to run come July 28.

Reiterating a frequently made statement, NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha told the Post yesterday that a political solution was impossible.

“If there is a political compromise to pave the way for Rainsy — for which it is necessary to revise the laws and procedures — it would need to go through the National Assembly, the Senate and finally be signed by the King. It is impossible to revise the laws because of the timetable” said Nytha.

In a press conference held at the Council of Ministers, Press and Quick Reaction Unit spokesman Keo Remy — who is himself a former senior member of both the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties — said a solution would not be forthcoming.

“I would like to inform everyone that there will be no political compromising,” he said.

Despite the unwavering tone of these statements, opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said the party remained optimistic.

“I think that the spirit of the Royal pardon allows him to automatically regain his political rights,” Chhay said.

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