Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen tells opposition officials to forget about CNRP and form a new party for 2018

Hun Sen tells opposition officials to forget about CNRP and form a new party for 2018

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A man paints over the CNRP’s logo at its Phnom Penh headquarters following its dissolution last month. Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday encouraged ex-CNRP members not banned from politics to form a new party to contest next year’s elections. Hong Menea

Hun Sen tells opposition officials to forget about CNRP and form a new party for 2018

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday instructed opposition officials not barred from politics to stop dwelling on last month’s dissolution of the CNRP, or hoping for its revival, and to instead create a new party to contest next year’s national elections.

In a November 16 Supreme Court decision, the main opposition party was dissolved in one stroke, with 118 of its senior officials banned from the political arena for five years for allegedly participating in a purported “revolution” to overthrow the government. The party’s leader, Kem Sokha, is still in pre-trial detention at a high-security prison near the Vietnamese border in Tbong Khmum province after being charged with “treason”.

Hun Sen yesterday said rumours or “fake news” that the CNRP could see a “rebirth” were false, as the high court’s decision was final.

“There is only one way and that is to create a new party to compete in the upcoming elections by following the democracy process. It’s much better than talking or campaigning, which is a waste of a lot of time,” he said, speaking to garment workers on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich.

Leading up to and since the party’s dissolution, the premier has often offered seemingly magnanimous gestures to the CNRP’s rank and file, including offering its officials the chance to keep their positions by defecting to the ruling party. The premier’s suggestion yesterday was quickly rejected by some CNRP officials who said they only wanted to represent their now-defunct party.

“If we cannot get the CNRP and we create more parties, they will dissolve it again. Therefore, if we cannot get the CNRP back, [Hun Sen] can compete in the elections alone,” said Sok Sek, former member of the CNRP’s Phnom Penh executive committee.

Kin Loeng, a former CNRP official from Prey Veng province, said he would only follow instructions from senior party officials and was paying no heed to the premier’s advice.

“I do not pay attention to that. I have not yet thought [about a new party], but I prefer doing farming to fill my stomach,” he added.

A last-ditch attempt by some banned CNRP officials to request a retrial at the Supreme Court was rejected by the high court on Friday.

The complaint was filed by around a dozen elected officials and party members saying that it was unfair to impose a sweeping ban on officials who were never summonsed by the court, and that the ruling tarnished their reputations by alleging treasonous acts.

A letter signed by Judge Dith Munty, who presided over the dissolution trial and who sits on the ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s permanent committee, rejected the request saying there were no provisions in the Law on Political Parties, which has been amended multiple times this year to facilitate the crackdown on the CNRP, to allow such a hearing. He also rejected a request to put the November verdict on hold until it could be decided if the CNRP had any legal recourse in the case.

Former opposition Senator Sor Chandeth, who was one of the co-plaintiffs, criticised the decision. “Even the ECCC [Khmer Rouge Tribunal] only prosecutes the top leaders. What about us? Are we more savage than the Khmer Rouge? I did not know anything about the treasonous acts,” he said.

Additional Reporting by Niem Chheng


  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,