Ex-CNRP members eye return to politics

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Former CNRP Permanent Committee member Son Chhay speaks to reporters in 2016. Hong Menea

Three former senior officials of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have requested Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng to remove the ban that bars them from politics.

Former members of the CNRP’s Permanent Committee and Board of Directors, the three are among senior opposition figures who have been banned from taking part in politics for five years under the 2017 Supreme Court ruling.

The three are former CNRP Permanent Committee member Son Chhay, and former members of the Board of Directors, Pheav Kimchhon and Va Samon.

“We request Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng to remove the prohibition on performing political acts so that we have the right to take part in politics again,” said the letter.

They based their request on the law on politics that allows those who are prohibited to participate in the arena again.

“I call on Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng to check the procedure to allow us to take part in politics again,” the letter said.

Chhay could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath said on Thursday he had not seen the request.

“I only know they may decide that way. I think their request is the first step in demanding the right to be a simple citizen so they do not have to fear talking and communicating.

“If they do not have the right to take part in politics, they have to be cautious even in speaking. Their lives, therefore, become difficult.

“This request is because as former high-ranking officials of CNRP, they still haven’t received a solution from the Supreme Court about the political prohibition. Personally, it is normal for them to request it as this issue has been suspended for many years,” he said.

Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Sar Kheng had instructed experts to review the request.

“Samdech Kralahom Sar Kheng has ordered the General Department of Administration, General Commissariat of the National Police and the ministry’s law experts to check and give him opinions,” he said.

He said following the procedure of the interior ministry, it has to check before sending work to the prime minister who has to send a request to the King for his signature, he said.

Democratic Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun said as a citizen and a person whose work is related to democracy in Cambodia, it is high time politicians stopped bothering about political disputes and negotiate with one another to be able to work together.

He said this is the force that can serve citizens and tackle national issues.

“If we look at Khmer history over 500 years, there was no time that we had a long period of happiness and peace, more so than after the election in 1993 which Cambodia follows for democracy and respect for human rights,” he said.