Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday set Friday as the deadline for former CNRP commune officials to defect to the ruling CPP to keep their positions following the dissolution of the opposition last week.
Mr Hun Sen announced the deadline in an interview with the Fresh News website, explaining why it was necessary.
“For those who want to voluntarily defect to the CPP, they have until November 24 because that is when the list of new commune councils must be sent to the National Election Committee,” he said.
“By November 25, we will still accept defectors, but they will not be able to keep their positions.”
In the June commune elections, the CPP won 1,156 communes and the CNRP took 489, while the Khmer National United Party won one commune.
The CNRP was formed after a merger between two opposition parties, the Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party, in 2013 and contested the general election that year, winning 55 seats from the total of 123 in the National Assembly.
But last week, the Supreme Court decided to dissolve it following complaints filed by Funcinpec and the Cambodian Youth Party in the wake of CNRP leader Kem Sokha’s arrest on treason charges.
Mr Sokha and the CNRP stand accused of conspiring with the US to topple the government in a colour revolution, which has been linked back to massive protests that followed the 2013 election in which demonstrators were protesting at the results alongside garment workers calling for higher wages.
Kakap commune chief Khem Chan Vannak said the Prime Minister was playing tricks to maintain his grip on power and that he would not defect.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said that more than 300 former CNRP officials had defected to the CPP so far.
“What we are doing follows the rule of law and all proper procedures,” he said.