Former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy’s political life was on the brink of oblivion yesterday after the Senate backed changes to the Law on Political Parties.
The 42 senators from the ruling CPP backed the measures, which had been agreed to by the National Assembly, as opposition senators boycotted the session.
The bill will be sent to King Norodom Sihamoni to sign as soon as possible.
The amendments follow previous law changes that resulted in Mr Rainsy, once Prime Minister Hun Sen’s main rival, stepping down as the opposition’s leader.
Amendments in March outlawed anyone convicted of a crime from becoming president or deputy president of a political party.
The second amendments, passed by 66 CPP lawmakers, bar convicts from being affiliated with political parties in any way, including the use of their voice or image.
Political analyst Meas Ny said Mr Rainsy’s political career, especially his connection with the CNRP, would be ended.
“I was not surprised when there was an order from the Prime Minister. Lower institutions would follow it,” Mr Ny said. “Those institutions are not independent.”
Another political analyst, Lao Mong Hai, said it was not the first time that Mr Hun Sen had ordered a change in the law.
He had ordered the creation of a law against anyone denying there was cruelty during the Khmer Rouge regime.
Earlier this year he also brought about amendments to National Assembly positions, which scrapped the positions of minority and majority leader.
“This amendment to the law was the idea of one person, Samdech Hun Sen,” Mr Mong Hai said.
“The purpose was to eliminate Sam Rainsy’s life in politics.”
CPP Senator Mam Bunneang said during the debate on the amendments that they were needed to ensure peace and the rule of law.
He suggested that incitement by Mr Rainsy could become a weapon and said the changes to the law could prevent civil war.
He criticised opposition lawmakers for boycotting yesterday’s session and some political analysts who allegedly said the law would break up the nation, oppress political parties and undermine democracy.
“This is to strengthen the state of the law to ensure peace for citizens,” Mr Bunneang said. “The law has not been created to break up the nation.
“Politicians can take part in the sessions or not but please don’t use political rhetoric, because rhetoric can break up the nation and cause war.”
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said he regretted that CNRP lawmakers boycotted the assembly and Senate sessions.
“I think the only people always raising problems are the ones who would break up the nation and not respect the democratic pluralism stipulated in the constitution,” Mr Yeap said.
“When we have urged Cambodia to become a state of law, the CNRP has never taken part in the joint session.”