Cambodian Opposition Party Makes Changes to Comply With Amended Bylaws

cambodia-eng-chhai-eang-cnrp-apr2-2017.jpg Eng Chhai Eang, a deputy president of the Cambodian National Rescue Party, says the party is in compliance with its bylaws, April 2, 2017.

Cambodia’s main opposition party has notified the country’s Ministry of Interior that it has re-endorsed its leadership and removed a slogan to comply with newly amended party bylaws.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) submitted a letter to the ministry on Monday, informing it that Kem Sokha remains the president of the party along with the three same deputy presidents—Pol Ham, Mu Sochua, and Eng Chhai Eang.

The CNRP also said it had removed its slogan “Replace the commune chiefs who serve the party with the commune chiefs who serve the people” in the run-up to local elections on June 4.

Eng Chhai Eang told reporters that the CNRP’s steering committee decided on Sunday that the party’s current leadership will remain in place so that the CNRP is in compliance with Article 47 of the party statutes.

“Now we are in compliance with the statute,” Eng Chhai Eang told RFA’s Khmer Service. “Actually, our statute came into effect immediately after it was amended.”

“Kem Sokha, therefore, has automatically become party president,” he said. “The re-endorsement of his position was not necessary. However, we had to convene the meeting to follow what the ministry wanted. Now the Ministry of Interior has recognized our new statute.”

Eng Chhai Eang said that the CNRP’s removal of the slogan was also a compromise.

Sok Eysan, spokesman of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) said he welcomed the move to remove the slogan because he believes it can resolve the controversy.

“The re-endorsement of the CNRP leadership had to be done to be compliant with its statute,” he said. “By cancelling its extraordinary congress decision, the CNRP has resorted to sticking to its Article 47 of the statute.

“Regarding the removal of the slogan, the CNRP had to do so to ensure that it abides by the law,” he said.

On March 31, the CNRP notified the Ministry of Interior of amendments to its party bylaws after the ministry recently declared the opposition’s appointment of Kem Sokha as president illegitimate, throwing its participation in the upcoming elections into question.

The ministry had claimed that the appointment during a March 2 extraordinary congress ran afoul of the CNRP’s statute, based on documentation the party filed in 2013, requiring a moratorium on electing a new president for 18 months after the post was vacated. The CNRP had amended the statute at the congress before appointing new leadership.

The CNRP is one of 12 political parties competing for 1,646 commune council seats on the June 4 ballot that many see as a bellwether for general elections in 2018.

Observers believe that the CNRP could give the CPP, which has ruled Cambodia for more than 35 years, a run for its money in the June elections.

The opposition has warned that the ruling party is seeking to prevent it from standing in the elections through a variety of different tactics.

Reported by Savi Khorn and Sarada Taing for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Nareth Muong. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.


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