Cambodia’s Royal Academy has supported changes to the Law on Political Parties which exclude from politics anyone with a criminal conviction.
The country’s leading research and training institution backed the amendments, which sideline former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy, during a round-table discussion yesterday.
Royal Academy deputy president Sok Touch said it was a demonstration of maturity when politicians used legal means to solve problems.
“When politicians use force you see bloodshed, the loss of territorial sovereignty and diplomatic losses,” Mr Touch said.
Every other country had such laws and it would be strange if Cambodia did not, he added.
Mr Touch agreed that some political parties and analysts had criticised the amendment of the law on the order of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
But he said the government had every right to request a change in the law, as stipulated in the constitution.
“Parties who win elections always do it,” Mr Touch said, comparing the action to US President Donald Trump banning the BBC from White House news conferences.
“That is a power to protect the president,” he said.
“The Law on Political Parties exists to aid social stability. When we have social stability we can do everything else.
“When we don’t have social stability we can’t talk about agriculture or developing the country and we will 100 percent face crises,” Mr Touch said.
However, Soun Serei Ratha, president of the Khmer Power Party, said the government should consider creating a law to find markets for the produce of farmers.
“Amending the political parties law is not important,” he said.
“The important thing is to help farmers who have cultivated rice paddy, cassava and crops. Where is the market to sell their products?”
Mr Serei Ratha said the Law on Political Parties had been approved and in force for 20 years, claiming the ruling CPP had changed it to eliminate its political rival, Mr Rainsy.
“It has taken nearly six months to amend the law twice because of political revenge on an individual,” he said.
CPP spokesman Chhim Phal Virun argued that prisoners should not have equal rights to ordinary people.
“The CPP considers that when political parties are linked to prisoners or come under the influence of prisoners those parties will take part in outlawed activity or political rebellion,” Mr Phal Virun said.
The latest amendments to the Law on Political Parties have been passed to the Constitutional Council for viewing before being sent to the King to sign.
The amendments, which have been passed by the National Assembly and the Senate, bar convicts from being affiliated with political parties in any way, including the use of their voice or image.