A senior government official on Monday said that the amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties has reached its final stage and is merely awaiting the signature of King Norodom Sihamoni, leaving 118 politicians facing the dilemma as to whether to return to the political stage or not.
The announcement came on Friday following the ruling of the Constitutional Council of Cambodia (CCC) – a nine-member institution charged with assessing the constitutionality of new laws – which stated that the amendment “complies with the Constitution”.
The four-page decision, signed by CCC president Im Chhun Lim, said: “The law on the amendment of Article 45 of [the] Law on Political Parties, which the National Assembly adopted on December 13 and the Senate debated and approved on December 25, has been ruled to comply with the Constitution.”
Article 2 of the decision ruled that the plenary meeting of the CCC is “final” and it will now implement its powers as stated in the Cambodian Constitution.
CCC spokesman Uth Chhorn told The Post that the decision was made based on the law and without external influence.
“We made our decision based on the Constitution . . . we also based the decision on the royal decree of the King – who has the right to reduce the punishment of a prisoner or pardon a prisoner – and the rights of the government, which is obliged to govern the country,” he said.
He said the amendment was sent back to the National Assembly on Friday before being sent to the Council of Ministers for forwarding to the King to sign.
He said the law will take effect immediately after the King signs it as it is regarded as urgent.
“We made a request that this law is treated as urgent. So after the King signs it, it will take effect,” he said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the King will sign the amendment once it reaches the Royal Palace shortly.
“I believe that the King will sign the amendment very soon in the future. The King is always active, so he will sign it soon,” he said.
Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) “acting president” Sam Rainsy claimed last month that he believed “99 per cent” of his party’s 118 banned former politicians will not request restoration of their political rights once the law takeseffect.
They will take advantage
But Siphan believes that there will be a significant number of former opposition politicians who will take advantage of the amendment, adding that “people who respected the Supreme Court verdict will be prioritised for receiving a pardon and those who did not respect the verdict will find it harder.”
Former CNRP lawmaker Kong Kimhak told The Post: “I have not made my decision about what to do. I am waiting for an internal agreement of our party.”
Fellow former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath could not be reached for comment.
Political analyst Ouk Serei Sopheak said once the law has passed through the CCC it is virtually guaranteed to become law. He said that though the opposition party’s dissolution last year was shocking, the former CNRP officials should stop resisting theruling.
“Once the national assembly and senate and the CCC give the green light, there are no obstacles anymore."
“Permitting all the 118 banned politicians to return to the political stage is a positive step that will cause a return back to the original situation. Please do not wait for five years,” he said.