Deadline set for former opposition members

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Only three former opposition members have requested to have their ban on political activity lifted. KT/Khem Sovannara

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday threatened to close the doors on former opposition party members who are contemplating filing a request to have their ban on politics lifted.

During a speech marking a ground-breaking ceremony for a drainage project in Phnom Penh, Mr Hun Sen said the former opposition party members have until Khmer New Year in April to file for clemency.

“The doors have opened, but whether you come in or not, it’s up to you,” he said. “I wish to inform you that the doors will be closed if you keep ignoring it or keep making demands.”

“If you wish to wait longer, please until November 2022,” Mr Hun Sen added. “You will not get another chance. November 2022 is when the Supreme Court’s verdict becomes invalid. You will not be able to compete in the May 2022 commune election.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen delivers a speech. KT/Khem Sovannara

A total of 118 CNRP politicians, including former party president Kem Sokha, were banned from politics in November 2017 by the Supreme Court after the party was dissolved.

After last year’s national election, the National Assembly amended the Law on Political Parties to pave the way for banned politicians to return via a Royal Pardon from the King.

However, in order for the pardon to be granted, each banned politician must file a request directly to Mr Hun Sen or Interior Minister Sar Kheng for approval.

So far, only three former opposition party members have been granted clemency, including Kong Korm, his son Kong Bora and Sim Sovanny.

Mr Hun Sen also warned the former opposition members that he will not intervene on their behalf if they have not been following the Supreme Court decision.

With only three pardoned so far, Prime Minister Hun Sen says former opposition members have until Khmer New Year to seek pardons for their return to politics. KT/Khem Sovannara

“If some of you are involved in politics now, I will order the police to handcuff you,” he said. “Do not wish for a political negotiation in order to have intervention. The judge must convict offenders after investigations conclude.”

Former opposition party lawmaker Ou Chanrath, who has not filed for a request, yesterday said he wishes to return to politics, but does not want to be branded as a traitor by former opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

“It’s not that I don’t want to return to politics, it’s hard for us to decide because of pressure from Mr Rainsy,” Mr Chanrath said. “We are trapped.”

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