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Rainsy’s signing of CNRP statement triggers government threat

Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks to the media during a press conference in 2014 in Phnom Penh.
Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks to the media during a press conference in 2014 in Phnom Penh. Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP

Rainsy’s signing of CNRP statement triggers government threat

Government officials yesterday threatened legal action over a CNRP statement released on Wednesday that included exiled former opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s signature, saying it violated controversial recent legal amendments – amendments widely believed to have been designed to prevent Rainsy from associating with his former party in the first place.

Though the original statement by 43 CNRP lawmakers, which laid out seven points including a call for jailed party President Kem Sokha’s release, did not bear Rainsy’s signature, a slightly tweaked version uploaded to the former party president’s Facebook page included his name and signature added at the end.

Ruling party and government officials yesterday said that the document violated new amendments to the Law on Political Parties – legislation that has been amended by the Cambodian People’s Party three times this year to the detriment of the CNRP – which disallow parties from associating with convicted criminals. Rainsy has numerous convictions to his name in a host of politically tinged cases.

“If a convict attaches himself to the activities of the party, the party has to reject it and announce immediately to distance themselves from the convict,” said CPP spokesman Sok Eysan.

Statement signed by Sam Rainsy.
Statement signed by Sam Rainsy. Facebook

Last week, Rainsy appeared in a Facebook video alongside CNRP lawmakers asking that a Senate candidate list approved by Sokha be ignored because it was signed under duress – an appearance that would violate other new provisions in the Political Parties Law banning the use of the image or voice of a convicted criminal.

“This means that what Sam Rainsy has done will not help the CNRP but push it towards dissolution because the mistakes keep coming up and are serious, which will face the law,” Eysan added.

The opposition is already facing possible dissolution at the hands of the Supreme Court over purported “treasonous” activities, and Sokha is currently in jail on treason charges for saying he received political advice from the US.

Ministry of Interior official Pol Sam Oeun said a notice would be sent to the party requesting clarification on the matter.

However, while not directly addressing why he posted the amended document, Rainsy said he did not care if it would be used as a “ludicrous pretext” to dissolve the opposition party. He maintained that the dissolution of the CNRP would bring about Prime Minister Hun Sen’s “inevitable downfall”, and that the premier “will not dare” to take that step.

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