Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KPPM gets green light for party despite jail sentence

KPPM gets green light for party despite jail sentence

Sourn Serey Ratha
Sourn Serey Ratha. Photo Supplied

KPPM gets green light for party despite jail sentence

Interior Minister Sar Kheng has given a green light to self-exiled dissident and Khmer People Power Movement leader Sourn Serey Ratha to form a political party.

Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak confirmed that Kheng signed a letter yesterday morning that would be sent to Serey Ratha to inform him his application to start a party had been approved and requesting that he complete the registration process.

“With the registration form, they have to collect at least 4,000 signatures of members in order to register [the party name],” he said.

The party will be called the Khmer Power Party. In December, Serey Ratha applied to register his group as the Khmer People Power Party but was forced to change the name and re-apply after the Interior Ministry said it was too similar to another group that had previously registered.

In January, Serey Ratha was sentenced in absentia to seven years in prison by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court under charges of treason, obstructing electoral procedures and inciting to overthrow the government.

He was charged in connection to a Facebook post prior to the 2013 election that allegedly called on the Cambodian armed forces to turn their weapons against Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Three others, including two KPPM members, were also handed sentenced of six years in prison for treason and obstructing electoral procedures for reportedly distributing T-shirts before the poll bearing slogans calling on citizens not to vote.

Hun Sen has publicly accused the KPPM of training armed forces in Thailand to overthrow his government.

But despite the ruling party’s views on Serey Ratha and his outstanding conviction, Sopheak said that there was no legal basis to stop him starting a party.

“If he is convicted already no law opposes him to open [a] political party,” he said.

In an email yesterday, Serey Ratha said he would “soon return” to Cambodia despite facing a lengthy jail term.

He added that gathering the signatures of 4,000 party members would be an easy task for KPPM, which he claimed was “committed to register to be a legal political party in Cambodia, in order to run its political activities openly
in the country”.

“So I will response [sic] soon to the MoI in order to fill up [the final] legal step before Khmer New Year,” he said.

A political platform released last year by the KPPM included cancelling all logging licences and for all landless families to be awarded land from the state.

MOST VIEWED

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • Sar Kheng: Rainsy return not blocked

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng clarified that Cambodia had never blocked Sam Rainsy from returning to the Kingdom. However, he said Cambodia reserved the right to take legal action as allowed by law against activities aimed at destroying the Kingdom. “No one blocked the return

  • Reports: Rainsy barred from Jakarta flight

    Sam Rainsy was on Wednesday refused entry to a flight from Malaysia to Indonesia, media reported late on Wednesday. The “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party’s announced return to the Kingdom on Independence Day on Saturday failed to occur. Rainsy

  • King Sihamoni presides over opening of Water Festival

    King Norodom Sihamoni presided over the lighting of the lantern barges, representing the many ministries, in front of the Royal Palace on Sunday as the first day of the annual Water Festival celebrations went smoothly. Bun Veasna, an official at the National Committee for Organising

  • Government studying EU’s preliminary report on EBA

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Wednesday said the government was studying the EU Commission’s preliminary report on the human rights situation in the Kingdom that could lead to a suspension of access to its “Everything But Arms” (EBA) agreement. The