New law is death knell for democracy
Cambodia’s parliament has voted to amend a law which will prevent anyone who has been convicted of a crime from standing for elected office. The amended law will also introduce new powers to suspend and dissolve political parties for offenses which are ill defined.
The move, which is described by most observers as politically motivated will prevent opposition leader Sam Rainsy from serving. Rainsy has been a constant thorn in the side for Prime Minister Hun Sen who has been in office since 1998 and shows no signs of standing down.
The law has been amended in such a way that the party of a politician convicted of a crime would also be dissolved. Sam Rainsy was convicted of defamation in 2016 after accusing the government of involvement in the murder of a high profile political activist and was forced to flee the country. Rainsy resigned as leader of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) on 11th February in order to preserve the remaining 54 seats in the National Assembly.
The South China Morning Post reports that the amended law would also allow the interior ministry to close down 45 of the 76 political parties in the country which were not properly registered.
The Asian Parliamentarians for Human Rights have described the changes as “the death knell for democracy in Cambodia.”