Mu Sochua (C), secretariat of the Cambodian National Rescue Party, speaks yesterday, flanked by deputy president Pol Ham (R) and deputy secretary Yem Ponharith. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post
The newly formed Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) held a press conference yesterday at its Phnom Penh headquarters to announce the make-up of the fledgling political force – although a bit of sloppy paperwork will delay the official registration.
A union of the two largest opposition groups, the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party, the CNRP tried to register with the Ministry of Interior yesterday so it can participate in the 2013 national election.
A slip-up in the filing would mean a two- to three-day delay, HRP spokesman Pol Ham said. He said certain addresses of communes were incorrect, among other “technical problems”, and the ministry needed up-to-date figures to process the application.
Ham dismissed the possibility that the application was held up for political reasons. After the form is filed and accepted, the ministry has 15 days to approve the application.
“If they do not reply, it means that they recognise [our party], Ham told reporters yesterday.
About 50 members showed up at the party’s headquarters, a donated plot of land that includes a garden and a small wooden villa.
Ham told reporters Sam Rainsy, who lives in self-exile in France, was the president of the CNRP, and Ham himself a temporary deputy president.
To avoid losing seats, Ham said, elected officials in both parties would wait until right before the next election to campaign as CNRP members.
Several questions remain, however, such as what will happen if Rainsy, who was convicted in absentia in 2010 of racial incitement and destroying border posts, is prevented from taking part in the election. Ponharith said one possibility was to boycott the election in protest.
“In front of some of the Cambodian People's Party officials and the court, Mr Sam Rainsy is a convict, but in front of the heart of millions of people Sam Rainsy is a hero,” SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said.
When contacted yesterday, Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, was blunt about Rainsy’s future in Cambodia. He said the opposition leader’s legal status meant that he did not have the right to vote and could not stand for public office.
To contact the reporter on this story: Meas Sokchea at [email protected]