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Hun Sen: Dual citizenship ban to last at least a century

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Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the inauguration ceremony of the headquarters for the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Monday. SPM

Hun Sen: Dual citizenship ban to last at least a century

Prime Minister Hun Sen affirmed that from now until at least the next century, the heads of the top four national institutions must hold single Cambodian citizenship, while the leaders of some opposition political parties have announced they would relinquish their dual-citizenships.

Hun Sen made the remarks on November 8 while presiding over the inauguration ceremony of the new headquarters for the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district.

“Now, His Excellency Im Chhun Lim [Constitutional Council president] and I must have single Cambodian citizenship – not two nationalities – and in the next 20, 30, 40 or 100 years, there will only be single nationality [citizens taking these offices],” he said.

Hun Sen said he considered the constitutional amendment to require single nationality for the top four offices an opportunity to seize immediately after a former opposition leader had raised the topic.

The prime minister was apparently referring to Sam Rainsy, the former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, who holds dual-citizenship with Cambodia and France.

On social media, Rainsy had been pushing a media report from The Guardian that claimed Hun Sen held a Cypriot passport, citing the Pandora Papers released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that has since been retracted by the UK-based newspaper with an apology.

“The wound did not hurt, but you poked it with a stick … I have lost nothing because I only had one nationality. You assumed that you could kick me with one foot and break my neck but my neck wasn’t broken, yours was,” Hun Sen said.

He said that prior to its promulgation, some had even predicted that the King would not approve it.

“Now that it has been promulgated, I do not need to comment further. I am standing here with single Cambodian citizenship by birth and I have never attempted or even dreamt of acquiring this nationality or that nationality. I’ve never wanted it,” he said.

Hun Sen added that the single-citizenship requirement does not block the participation in politics by people who hold dual-citizenship as long as they are not serving in one of the four offices.

“You cannot play the role of prime minister or hold the most important positions if you haven’t relinquished your second nationality,” he said.

After the law was promulgated on November 3, former opposition party lawmaker Riel Khemrin – now the president of the newly-established Khmer Conservative Party – said he would relinquish his Australian citizenship to share in the joys and pains of the Cambodian people.

“I will relinquish my dual-citizenship to live with my compatriots to serve the nation from the bottom of my heart to make our people smile. Nothing is bigger than my nation, including my life,” Khemrin said.

He told The Post on November 8 that as the head of his party – and according to the law – if he wants to run for prime minister, he must have single-citizenship in accordance with the amended Constitution.

“I will visit the Australian embassy next week because I do not yet understand the procedures, so I have to get in touch with the embassy to see what they require me to do [to renounce my citizenship] and then I’ll do it,” he said

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