Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New National Assembly role for Sokha



New National Assembly role for Sokha

Kem Sokha waves to supporters at a youth event at the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh earlier this week.
Kem Sokha waves to supporters at a youth event at the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh earlier this week. Heng Chivoan

New National Assembly role for Sokha

The Cambodia National Rescue Party said yesterday it plans to appoint acting president Kem Sokha to replace Sam Rainsy as head of the party’s lawmakers in the National Assembly but said the title of “minority leader” will still belong to Rainsy, who fled to France a year ago.

The party’s intention to appoint Sokha to the role – with lawmakers and party spokespeople Yim Sovann and Yem Ponhearith as deputies – emerged following a meeting of the assembly’s permanent committee, which set the agenda for Wednesday’s plenary session.

The CNRP’s plans, however, sparked confusion about the definition of parliamentary minority leader, a role ostensibly equal in rank to that of the prime minister, and which was pushed for by Rainsy as a political concession following the reconciliation after the 2014 political deal.

Discussing the plans, National Assembly Secretary-General Peng Leng Long said the change would simply make Sokha minority leader in the assembly in place of Rainsy, who was stripped of his lawmaker status last year after the emergence of an old conviction in a case widely seen as politically motivated.

However, the CNRP, seemingly mindful of the power balance within the coalition, said that the title of “minority leader” was, in fact, a different role than head of the MPs in parliament.

“Minority leader for the group, that means the person who represents the party as well as the MPs, whereas the leader of the MP group represents only MPs in the National Assembly,” said Sovann, the spokesman.

Sovann cited Article 48 of the Assembly’s internal regulations in making the distinction, although the article appears to suggest the roles are the same. The article states parties with 5 percent of the seats in the parliament can appoint a leader for its MPs, with two deputies.

However, if a party has at least 25 percent of seats, the leader of its group of MPs becomes a minority leader.

Kem Monovithya, Sokha’s daughter and the CNRP deputy director-general of public affairs, said Sokha would take over Rainsy’s role as head of the CNRP parliamentary group, but also said this didn’t mean he was the new minority leader.

“The minority leader in our context is more of a party to party [role],” Monovithya said, explaining that her father’s ruling party counterpart in his new role was Interior Minister Sar Kheng, who is the current “majority leader” for the CPP.

Taking to Twitter, Rainsy also said he remained in the same position. “As CNRP president, I remain Minority Leader (as specified in National Assembly’s internal rules). My counterpart is Hun Sen.”

Meanwhile, the CPP yesterday held a closed-door meeting for 30 members of its powerful permanent committee, though party spokesman Sok Esyan declined to give details, saying only that the meeting was planned months ago, and was to review a progress report for another upcoming CPP conference.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants