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New congress seeks to clear ministry hurdle

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
CNRP members raise their hands to vote in favour of new leadership at the party’s extraordinary congress last month in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

New congress seeks to clear ministry hurdle

The Cambodia National Rescue Party plans to hold another extraordinary congress next week to reselect three deputy leaders whose appointment at a congress last month was deemed invalid by the Interior Ministry.

Speaking yesterday, opposition CNRP lawmaker Pol Ham, one of the three vice presidents deemed illegitimate by the ministry, said the party will hold the congress on April 25. The Interior Ministry claimed the opposition violated its own bylaws when it chose its new leadership on March 2.

According to Ham, on top of a vote on the vice presidents, the party will amend its statutes to facilitate the process.

“Internally there is no problem but the Interior Ministry said that we do not have deputy presidents,” Ham said.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
CNRP president Kem Sokha (left) with deputy presidents, Pol Ham, Mu Sochea and Eng Chhay Eang raise hands at the Party's Extraordinary Congress on new leadership last month in Phnom Penh Pha Lina

To address this, the opposition plans to add a clause specifically allowing the central committee to select deputy presidents when none are in place. “We will wait to see how the Interior Ministry reacts. If they suggest more, we will follow,” he said.

The ministry claims it is enforcing the rules but many see its actions as an attempt to bureaucratically bind the CNRP as local elections approach.

The appointment of CNRP president Kem Sokha, who was elevated at the same March congress as his deputies, was initially deemed invalid though that decision was reversed.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak declined to comment on whether the CNRP’s planned congress would put the matter to rest.

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