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CNRP meets as new Party Law clears council

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A CNRP billboard, with the portraits of party President Kem Sokha and former president Sam Rainsy blacked out, seen alongside National Road 5 yesterday in Kampong Chhnang province. Heng Chivoan

CNRP meets as new Party Law clears council

Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders yesterday summoned members from across the Kingdom instructing them how to comply with impending new laws that will see former party President Sam Rainsy scrubbed clean from their prolific billboards – but not without a hint of defiance.

As images of Rainsy clasping hands with current party President Kem Sokha continued to be crudely covered over with blue and black paint, the party yesterday resolved to replace their picture with a slogan.

“The slogan ‘Joining together to rescue our nation’ will replace the spot where [the leaders are] shaking hands,” said CNRP Deputy President Eng Chhay Eang.

“We believe that citizens will still support us, because the citizens have understood.”

Opposition leader Kem Sokha speaks to the press after the closed-door party meeting held yesterday at the party office in Phnom Penh to discuss implementation of the newly passed Political Parties Law.
Opposition leader Kem Sokha speaks to the press after the closed-door party meeting held yesterday at the party office in Phnom Penh to discuss implementation of the newly passed Political Parties Law. Pha Lina

The highly controversial amendments to the Law on Political Parties – the second round of such changes in just four months – were passed swiftly with no alternations by the Constitutional Council yesterday, despite the changes being decried as “unconstitutional” by the opposition.

The amendments mean the CNRP cannot use the picture, voice or written materials of Rainsy, as he holds criminal convictions in what observers note are politically-motivated legal disputes. The CNRP aims to remove Rainsy from all signs dotted around the country by September 30 – ahead of the three-month deadline.

Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Suos Yara said what the CNRP did was its business.

“We are not fazed by what they propagandise,” he said. “Provided they are respecting the law, that is their business.”

Senators from the Sam Rainsy Party will also be required to change the party’s name under the newly revised law – with “Khmer Nation Party” and “Light of Democracy Party” the leading contenders, though a decision had not been reached yesterday.

Opposition lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang waves to the press as he walks out of the closed door meeting held yesterday at the CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh.
Opposition lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang waves to the press as he walks out of the closed door meeting held yesterday at the CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Under the law, royalist party Funcinpec would also be required to alter its logo – which bears the face of party leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh and was unveiled in November – within 90 days.

Funcinpec spokesman Nheb Bun Chin previously told The Post that he was seeking clarification as to whether the party would need to change all of its logos, which he estimated would cost at least $100,000.

“We are doing our work,” he said yesterday, but declined to comment further.

King Norodom Sihanouk is conspicuously absent from the Kingdom – as he was during the previous round of controversial amendments – meaning the new changes are expected to be signed into force by CPP stalwart and Senate President Say Chhum.

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