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Riel Khemarin files for clemency

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
Riel Khemarin. Facebook

Riel Khemarin has become the latest former opposition official to file a request with Interior Minister Sar Kheng to have his ban from politics lifted.

Mr Khemarin was one of 118 CNRP politicians banned from politics for five years by the Supreme Court in 2017 as it dissolved the party.

So far, Kong Korm, his son Kong Bora and Sim Sovanny have had their political rights restored after making the request.

The move was heavily criticised by exiled former opposition leader Sam Rainsy who said anyone who filed for a request would be branded a traitor.

On Thursday, Mr Khemarin told Mr Kheng in a letter that he wants to return to politics and create a new party.

“Please examine my request and grant me political rehabilitation because I have a plan to form a new political party to contest in the upcoming commune election in 2022,” he said.

According to the Law on Political Parties, the banned politicians must file a request either with Mr Kheng or Prime Minister Hun Sen in order to return to politics before 2022.

It said that once clemency has been granted by Prime Minister Hun Sen, King Norodom Sihamoni will then issue a Royal Pardon.

Mr Sovanny yesterday said 11 former opposition party officials will file a request today.

“These people have no other choice, but to file a request in order to return to politics,” he said. “It’s no use staying outside of the line. We believe that the current political tension will be eased when some of us return. These [11] people are loyal to both Mr Rainsy and Mr Sokha.”

Interior Ministry spokesman General Khieu Sopheak yesterday said the government has already given Mr Khemarin’s request a green light and will soon have his ban lifted.

“He is the fourth person to have requested to return to politics,” Gen Sopheak said. “He’s just waiting for the final approval by King Norodom Sihamoni.”

“Other banned former opposition party members could still file for a request,” he added. “There is no harsh condition.”

Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath said some banned politicians are seeking clemency because they want to return to politics.

“It was Khemarin’s choice. I think he must have a clear plan for that,” Mr Chanrath said. “I also believe that banned former opposition members living in the Kingdom are more likely to file a request because they are tired of being between Mr Hun Sen’s dispute with Mr Rainsy.”

Last week, Mr Hun Sen said he could stop granting clemency as early as Khmer New Year in April.

Mr Rainsy on Friday released his own statement, calling for the rest of the banned politicians to refrain from filing a request because Mr Hun Sen’s regime will soon reinstate them as international pressure mounts.

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