A raft of widely criticised amendments to the Law on Political Parties was signed in the King’s absence on Tuesday, documents circulated yesterday reveal.
The new law, which human rights observers have said is a “death knell for democracy” and a “triumph of dictatorship”, was signed by Senate President Say Chhum and circulated yesterday by Fresh News – an outlet often used by the government to disseminate documents.
King Norodom Sihamoni, whose signature marks the final step in the process for any law to be implemented, was in China for a medical checkup at the time of signing.
The new law forbids convicted criminals from holding leadership positions within a political party, and gives unprecedented powers to the Ministry of Interior, which can recommend the Supreme Court dissolve parties without an appeal. The impending amendments saw former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy resign, prompting a party leadership reshuffle.
The amendments were passed by the National Assembly, then approved by the Senate and Constitutional Council in less than three weeks.