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Government proposes law to allow the banned back in politics

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Mu Sochua is one of 118 former Cambodia National Rescue Party officials currently banned from politics. Photo supplied

Government proposes law to allow the banned back in politics

A proposed amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties seeks to allow individuals barred by the courts to re-enter politics before the term of their ban is complete if they receive a concession from King Norodom Sihamoni.

The proposed amendment to the law, according to a statement from the General Secretariat of the National Assembly on Wednesday, will allow Minister of Interior Sar Kheng to petition Prime Minister Hun Sen to request the King for such permission.

A second government statement released on Wednesday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, said the National Assembly is reviewing legal provisions to enable the 118 former CNRP officials banned from politics to resume their political activities.

Leng Peng Long, general secretary of the National Assembly, said 87 lawmakers are proposing the Article 45 amendment, “which aims to strengthen democracy, the rule of law and enhance the spirit of national unity”.

This proposed amendment to the law has as its purpose the care of those who have been banned from politics, Peng Long said.

Those who have been banned will be able to have the right to re-enter politics after the Prime Minister, following a request from the Minister of Interior, makes a request to the King to rehabilitate them.

“We think that the law also has some loopholes as it fails to consider them.”

Peng Long added that the Permanent Committee of the National Assembly will send the draft law to its experts for examination. The permanent committee will then submit it to the National Assembly for approval.

He did not give a timeframe for the process.

The proposed amendment could pave the way for former leaders of the CNRP) to re-enter politics.

On November 16 last year, the Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP for “attempting to overthrow the government through a colour revolution”, while 118 of its senior members were banned from engaging in political activities for five years.

A government statement on “Future Steps to Strengthen Democracy and the Political Space” released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday said the National Assembly is reviewing legal provisions to enable the 118 former CNRP officials banned from politics to resume their political activities.

“In order to further promote democracy and the rule of law, the National Assembly is reviewing legal provisions to enable individuals who were banned from politics to resume their political activities,” the statement read.

It is one of five points outlined in the statement aimed at keeping and protecting the achievements of the government and to promote the political and democratic space and allow citizens to practice legal freedoms in the spirit of national reconciliation.

The statement also mentioned changes to the government’s partnership with civil society and highlighted the removal the requirement that NGOs notify local authorities three days in advance of their planned activities and hold forums with them.

The government said it had always promoted freedom of the press and free speech, but there had been complaints that those freedoms were being restricted, notably regarding the issues of the shuttered newspaper the Cambodia Daily and radio stations Radio Free Asia and Voice of America – complaints it wished to address.

The statement continued that the Cambodia Daily closed its operations voluntarily after failing to pay tax.

“In the event that such liabilities are legally met, the newspaper [Cambodia Daily] can resume its operations,” it stated, adding that the closures of the VOA and RFA offices were self-initiated and that the two radio stations are free to reopen their offices in Cambodia.

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