Candlelight Party amends rules to allow easy dissolution

Candlelight Party member Teav Vannol speaks to reporters yesterday at the former CNRP headquarters, where a congress was held to amend its bylaws.
Candlelight Party member Teav Vannol speaks to reporters yesterday at the former CNRP headquarters, where a congress was held to amend its bylaws. Hong Menea

The Candlelight Party yesterday met to amend its bylaws to allow it to dissolve the party with a simple majority vote, while reiterating that it will boycott July’s elections.

The meeting was likely to avoid a scenario faced recently by the Human Rights Party, whose dissolution was denied by the Ministry of Interior because it needed to hold a congress to disband the party – an impossibility with so many of its members having fled the country for security reasons.

Around 40 members of the former Sam Rainsy Party met at the now-dissolved CNRP’s headquarters in Phnom Penh, with party member Teav Vannol saying the party had amended Article 47 of its internal bylaws, which stipulated that a congress was needed to disband the party.

“So, the Candlelight Party wants to change that section. When the political situation is not favourable, the board of directors can dissolve the party with a 50 [percent]-plus-one vote,” he said, adding that they will shortly submit the change to the Interior Ministry for approval.

The Sam Rainsy Party and Kem Sokha’s Human Rights Party merged in 2012 to form the Cambodia National Rescue Party, though neither party was disbanded because their commune and Senate officials remained in office.

The two parties had planned to dissolve themselves this year, after Candelight Party senators competed for senate seats as CNRP candidates, but the CNRP was unexpectedly forced to dissolve, prompting international condemnation.

In the end, the Candlelight Party did not contest the Senate elections, which saw the Cambodian People’s Party win all 58 seats up for grabs. Vannol clarified yesterday that the party had not decided to dissolve itself, but was making sure the option was on the table.

“If we don’t change it and one day we want to dissolve due to a rapid change of the political situation, we want to dissolve unlike the Human Rights Party”, whose dissolution was blocked, he said.

HRP President Son Soubert said the party’s members had already mostly switched over to the CNRP. The only way to hold a congress would be to welcome back old members, some of whom have been controversially banned from politics for five years by the Supreme Court.

“If the ministry wants the HRP to continue, they can keep it but we have stopped. I won’t be the president any longer. So, the ministry must find a new president,” he said.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said he could not comment on the bylaw changes before seeing them.