King Norodom Sihamoni has signed off on the amendment to the Law on Political Parties that paves the way for former opposition members to have a ban on political activity lifted, according to a royal decree dated Wednesday and obtained yesterday.
The amendment will see some former opposition party members now banned from politics have an opportunity to see their bans lifted after making a request to either Prime Minister Hun Sen or Interior Minister Sar Kheng.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said the amendment applied not just to the former CNRP members, but also to politicians from other political parties who had been barred from politics.
“The amendment is practical for all politicians and if I were the former CNRP members, I would request to re-enter politics because it’s the only way that I can distribute and promote democracy for national benefits,” he said.
The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November 2017 after its leader Kem Sokha was arrested on treason charges for allegedly trying to overthrow the government through a colour revolution; 118 senior party members were also banned from politics for five years.
Kong Korm, a former top adviser of the former CNRP, yesterday said he would file a request to the Interior Ministry today and prepare to become an adviser to the Khmer Will Party, a newly founded political party led by his son Kong Monika which came fourth in the 2018 national election.
“For sure, I will request to return to politics and join KWP,” he said. “I strongly believe KWP is a new choice for people toward positive changes.”
“KWP will become the main opposition party and a solid one to replace the CNRP and I hope former CNRP members will consider joining KWP as well,” Mr Korm added.
Ou Chanrath, a former opposition lawmaker, yesterday remained undecided about making a request to have his ban lifted and said he believed that the amendment is dividing CNRP into two groups.
“I cannot decide now,” he said. “I believe that if the government really has an intention to solve the political crisis, they will drop charges against our leader Kem Sokha and the Interior Ministry should take the lead to lift all the bans.”
Not all the banned politicians have plans to make the request to have their bans lifted.
Those loyal to Sam Rainsy, such as former CNRP vice president Mu Sochua and senior official Eng Chhay Eang announced earlier that they will not make the request.
Mr Rainsy yesterday took to Facebook to call on the 118 former CNRP officials to remain durable and not to fall into the trap of his rival Mr Hun Sen.
“Do not to fall into Hun Sen’s trap and do not unknowingly serve the current dictatorship,” he said, “It’s clear that a real solution to the current crisis involves in the first instance the liberation of Kem Sokha, who is falsely accused of treason.”
“It was on the basis of this unsubstantiated accusation that the CNRP was dissolved and 118 of its officials banned from politics,” he added.