Ex-CNRP lawmaker gets ministry’s nod for new party formation

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Ou Chanrath said in a press conference at Sunway Hotel in 2019. Hong Menea

The Ministry of Interior has allowed former opposition lawmaker Ou Chanrath to form the Cambodia Reform Party (CRP), but denied his request to use of the motto “rescue, serve and protect” as it was once used by the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party.

The new party’s headquarters is in Anlong Vil commune’s Puk Chhmar village of Battambang provice’s Sangke district.

In a statement, the ministry said: “Based on Article 11 of the law on political parties, the interior ministry requests that [the CRP] change the motto ‘rescue, serve and protect’ found in their party’s logo. The change is necessary because this is the same motto used by a political party that was dissolved by the Supreme Court.”

CRP founder Chanrath said the proposed motto was not inappropriate as it was written in Khmer and applied to all Cambodians equally, but he said he would comply with the ministry’s request.

Chanrath said his party still lacked some of the documents required to engage in political activities such as the thumbprints of 4,000 party members, party bylaws and bank account but is now working to fulfil the ministry’s requirements.

“The important thing is that the ministry has now agreed to allow the formation of the party . . . The next move is to collect the thumbprints of 4,000 party members to submit to the ministry and to write the bylaws and fill out some other forms, all of which may take about three months,” he said.

Political analyst Seng Sary said it was too early to predict whether Chanrath’s party could gain popular support because the success of a political party depends on its political platforms and leadership.

Sary noted that the CRP will have to deal with public criticism and attacks from some of the other former CNRP supporters.

“He’s going to have to go through a storm of smears and insults to prove that he is a qualified politician who can handle this kind of scrutiny. Politicians are public figures that citizens can and will criticise. If he can make it through these opening stages, I think he could be a very formidable politician,” he said.