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Spokesman: KNLF set to register as legitimate party later this month

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Khmer National Liberation Front (KNLF) founder Sam Serey.

Spokesman: KNLF set to register as legitimate party later this month

The Khmer National Liberation Front (KNLF) – a group claiming to be Cambodia’s “government in exile”, led by Sam Serey – is set to register as a legitimate political party later this month, after its members collected more than 5,000 thumbprints, its spokesman Thuy Vy said on Tuesday.

The thumbprints collection came after the government announced it welcomed the KNLF registering as a new party, with Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan last month saying he believed it was the “right thing”.

“We officially decided earlier last year that next week, the KNLF will submit the collected documents and about 5,000 thumbprints for the party’s registration to the Ministry of Interior,” he said.

Vy said the collected thumbprints have been sourced from people of various provinces in Cambodia and Thailand. His party has complied with the Kingdom’s Constitution, he continued.

“I hope the ministry would consider national interests as a primary matter. According to the Constitution, all Cambodians have rights to engage in politics,” he said.

Vy was arrested in Phnom Penh in May 2017 after attempting to arrange a press conference calling on the government to release political prisoners and pardon KNLF leader, Sam Serey, who was subsequently sentenced to 18 months imprisonment on incitement charges.

Upon his release on November 20 last year, he was appointed KNLF spokesman, publicly stating his intention to register the group as an official political party.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment, but he said last month that the government body “would not oppose the move if it met the requirements of the Law on Political Parties”.

KNLF president Sam Serey made headlines last month after he announced he would “halt activities” and return to Cambodia if certain conditions were met, including pardons leading to the release of all KNLF members in the Kingdom’s jails.

Serey was sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison in 2014 for allegedly “plotting” an attempt to overthrow the government and has been labelled a “terrorist mastermind”.

His “government in exile” reportedly consists of 56 members. He was granted political asylum by Denmark in 2011.