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Sam Rainsy ‘faces isolation’ when law change comes into force

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Sam Rainsy in National Assembly since 2015. Heng Chivoan

Sam Rainsy ‘faces isolation’ when law change comes into force

A senior ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) official on Wednesday warned of opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s impending “isolation” when the amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties comes into effect.

The National Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved the law change in a move that could pave the way for former senior Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leaders banned for five years to return to the political stage.

To be eligible, those barred must be seen to have respected the court’s ruling. The prime minister can then request King Norodom Sihamoni for a pardon.

The Senate’s Permanent Committee is due to hold a meeting on December 24 to discuss the law change before including it on the agenda of a plenary session for debate, Senate spokesman Mam Bun Neang said.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan on Wednesday said the “important thing” was that “the convict Rainsy”, recently nominated as acting CNRP president, would be in the political wilderness when the law change is passed as his name is absent from the list of politicians being considered for the reinstatement of their political rights.

“The important thing is that convict Sam Rainsy will be isolated when the amendment to the Law on Political Parties takes effect, as this will mean the reinstatement of political rights for some of the 118 [banned CNRP] officials – except Sam Rainsy, whose name is not on the list. At this time, the people will see who is strong and who is weak,” he wrote on Telegram.

In a second message on the same day, Sok Eysan, who is also a ruling party senator, dismissed as “meaningless” the recent nomination of Rainsy as “acting president” of the CNRP after an international conference in the US and a public forum in France.

“The public is not interested in the nomination of Sam Rainsy as acting CNRP president because the position is just wind and smoke – it is meaningless."

“It is meaningless because Sam Rainsy is not [even] a party member, so how can he become president?” he wrote.

Sam Rainsy was nominated “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved CNRP at an international conference the former opposition held in Atlanta, Georgia early this month. The move was blasted by supporters of CNRP president Kem Sokha as a “coup” that violated party bylaws. Kem Sokha is currently on bail awaiting trial on treason charges.

“It is needless to talk about the CNRP’s bylaws because the party has died already. Why should we think about their bylaws?” Sok Eysan said.

“We wait only for the amendment to the Law on Political Parties to take effect. Let’s wait and see the face of Sam Rainsy, who will be robbed [of his meaningless] position. Where will he turn his face to? It will happen soon.”

Senate spokesman Bun Neang on Wednesday said the Senate had received the amendment to Article 45, a day after the National Assembly had adopted it.

He said the Senate’s expert commission is to study the law change before forwarding it to the Permanent Committee on December 24 for discussion.

“This law [change] is regarded as urgent. However, we need to discuss it carefully, and the expert commission is reviewing the form, legality and meaning of the amendment as to whether it is consistent with the Constitution,” he said.

Bun Neang added that at the upcoming Permanent Committee meeting, the date for a plenary session to debate the law will be set.

Meanwhile, Sok Eysan said on Wednesday that a “five-point solution” demanded by Rainsy to be followed “unconditionally” has been “paid no attention” to by the government.

Sam Rainsy early this week took to Facebook, saying the CNRP must push Hun Sen to implement his five-point solution to end the current political crisis.

“We must not let Hun Sen dodge the five-point solution as recommended by the international community to solve Cambodia’s political crisis,” he wrote.

He outlined the five-points as the release of Kem Sokha; the dropping of all charges against CNRP officials and activists; the reinstatement of his party; the return to the CNRP of all elected positions confiscated by the government; and the holding of new elections with the participation of the Supreme Court-dissolved opposition.

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