Lawyers are perplexed on the interpretation of existing laws which may support or reject possible attempts to dissolve the opposition CNRP.
The Interior Ministry on Friday filed a Supreme Court complaint to dissolve the party.
The complaint came after the Cambodian Youth Party and Funcinpec, neither of which hold any seats in the National Assembly, last week petitioned the ministry to disband the opposition over treason allegations.
Sok Sam Oeun, a lawyer and the former head of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said the Interior Ministry’s legal team had claimed to have sufficient evidence to file for the dissolution of the CNRP.
However, he had no idea what exactly that evidence was.
“It all depends on the Supreme Court. If they find out the complaint is legal they will process it. If not, they will not take action,” he said.
Another lawyer, Hong Kimsoun, told local media that dissolving the opposition party would equate to convicting all its members and supporters.
“There is no clear legal basis for the Interior Ministry complaint,” he said. “And if the CNRP were disbanded, then parliament and the government itself would also be dissolved according to the constitution.”
After submitting the Supreme Court complaint, Interior Ministry defence lawyer Ky Tech told reporters the lawsuit was based on the requests of two political parties, in line with several articles in the recently amended Law on Political Parties.
He added there were 21 pieces of evidence related to the case for dissolving the CNRP, including three video clips of CNRP president Kem Sokha allegedly admitting to conspiracy with a foreign power.
Mr Sokha has been charged with treason over the clips and detained in prison but not yet tried in the case.
“The evidence is solid enough for the Supreme Court, which could dissolve the CNRP under the law and suspend all the political activities of the party,” Mr Tech said.
Kem Monovithya, Mr Sokha’s daughter and deputy director-general of public affairs at the CNRP, posted her reaction to the latest threat of dissolution on Twitter.
“The question isn’t whether CNRP will be formally dissolved. As it stands we already can’t operate. But how to restore overall democratic space?” she said.
A Facebook page attributed to Kon Neak Asia said Saturday that the CNRP would be dissolved before the end of the year.
“CNRP will be dissolved soon. I think Prime Minister Hun Sen will beat this foreign-supported party. In previous times the Khmer Rouge was very strong but was cracked down on by Strong Man Hun Sen. CNRP officials and members should find a better place to go,” a post on the page read.
Chheang Vannarith of the Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies said politics in the country may have long-term term political implications if the act is carried out.
“The CNRP will be forced to play a high-stake, high-risk political game. It is not a wise move either way,” he said.
An opinion piece published in local media under the name Baksey Chamkrong argued for a so-called compromise on the issue.
It suggested that CNRP seats in the National Assembly could be allocated to minor parties as opposed to being taken over by the ruling CPP.
The first option would be to distribute seats proportionally according to votes received, affording the CPP 120 seats and Funcinpec three, the article said.
Another choice would be to redistribute CNRP seats by vote percentages among minor parties.
The CPP would remain at 68 seats, Funcinpec would have 41, the League for Democracy Party six, the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party five, the Cambodian Nationality Party two and the Khmer Economic Development Party one.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said people were entitled to differing opinions on the Interior Ministry complaint to the Supreme Court.
“The main issue to be considered is the rule of law and the acts of the opposition party’s leader and members,” he said.