Interior Minister Sar Kheng has asked Khmer Power Party president Soung Sophorn to change the party’s name, following a request by former party president Sourn Serey Ratha.
Mr Kheng’s request came in a statement on Tuesday. He said his ministry received a statement from KPP leaders and founders asking the ministry to ban other groups from using its name.
Mr Kheng said this was in line with the Law on Political Parties.
“At this point, the ministry would request the party to examine and retitle the party name,” Mr Kheng said.
“I hope the party president will take immediate action in an appropriate time.”
Director-general of the ministry’s general department of administration Prak Sam Oeun said the ministry would allow enough time for Mr Sophorn to organise the documents and hold an internal meeting to decide on the new name.
“Mr Serey Ratha is eligible,” Mr Sam Oeun said. “As a founder of the KPP, he could ask to annul its name.”
“So, Mr Sophorn is required to give his party a new name,” he added. “Under the law on political parties, the KPP no longer exists. However, the ministry will allow plenty of time for the change.”
Mr Sophorn yesterday said he was aware of the ministry’s statement and said the decision was politically motivated to reduce his influence in the KPP.
“The government was not pleased with the KPP under my leadership because we did not compete in last year’s national election,” Mr Sophorn said.
“I had sought reform of the National Election Committee and a change in the government’s position.”
Mr Sophorn said even though the party would change its name, its structure, leadership, and members remained the same.
He said he would submit a new name to the ministry next month.
“We had a meeting and laid out three new names,” he said. “The party’s permanent committee will hold another meeting on March 5, to select one name for the party.”
“We will also hold a congress on March 7, to declare our party’s new name and members,” Mr Sophorn said.
Mr Serey Ratha said he would register a new political party with the Interior Ministry before March 18 to continue his political career.
“My new political party is named the Khmer Reform Party,” he said. “I have prepared 5,000 members for party registration.
“I would ask the Interior Ministry to take legal action against Mr Sophorn if he insists on using the KPP’s name,” Mr Serey Ratha added.
Mr Serey Ratha in September filed a complaint against Mr Sophorn for allegedly forging public documents to secure the title of party president after Mr Sophorn refused to reinstate Mr Serey Ratha into the presidential position.
Mr Serey Ratha was released from prison last year, after serving just over a year after being convicted of inciting military disobedience and demoralising the army.
He was sentenced to five years over the conviction, which followed a message he posted on Facebook urging the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces to resist orders from their leaders.