The Senate is today due to debate an amendment to the Law on Political Parties that could pave the way for hundreds of banned former opposition members to re-enter the political arena.
The Senate’s Permanent Committee yesterday decided to hold a plenary session to adopt the amendment to the Law on Political Parties today after the National Assembly approved it on December 13.
On December 13, National Assembly president Heng Samrin and 115 ruling CPP lawmakers inserted a new paragraph into article 45 of the law.
The new paragraph says: “Any persons who are banned by the court from doing political activities will be granted their full rights to do politics after passing the validity of the ban defined by the Supreme Court’s verdict or in case those persons are granted rehabilitation by the King according to requests by the Prime Minister and Interior Minister.”
The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court last year after its leader Kem Sokha was arrested on treason charges for allegedly colluding with the US government to topple the government. Its 118 senior members were also barred from politics for five years.
Senate spokesman Mam Bun Neang said that not all 118 former opposition lawmakers barred from doing politics for five years will see their ban lifted after the amendment is passed.
“The King can provide amnesty for those who respected the law and this also does not mean the dissolved party will be reinstated,” Mr Bun Neang said. “We want to clarify that they cannot be reinstated as lawmakers once the law comes into effect.”
“For any persons violating the Supreme Court’s verdict, they cannot be forgiven,” he added, noting that the amendment was aimed at national unity, and reconciliation to strengthen a principle of multi-party democracy.
Former opposition lawmaker Ou Chanrath said the amendment does not give much benefit to mend national unity because it is stipulated that each former lawmaker makes an individual request to Interior Minister Sar Kheng or directly to Prime Minister Hun Sen to have their ban lifted.
Mr Chanrath said that the Ministry of Interior should prepare all documents and forward them to the King to pardon all 118 former senior party members because individual requests will not bring about national unity and reconciliation.
“I believe the political crisis remains unsolved because this cannot settle the problem,” Mr Chanrath said. “For me, I will not make an individual request.”