Former CNRP officials ‘likely’ to seek political rehab before elections

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Former opposition figure Kong Korm. Heng Chivoan

Former opposition figure Kong Korm predicted that one-third of the banned 118 politicians from the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) will seek political rehabilitation prior to the upcoming commune and national elections in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

Korm – former acting president of the long-defunct Sam Rainsy Party and currently honourary president of the Khmer Will Party – made the prediction after ex-CNRP leader Sam Rainsy called on Cambodians to consider forming a national unity government following the example of Myanmar and for Prime Minister Hun Sen to return power to the people.

Korm believed that the politicians, who have been barred from politics for five year after the dissolution, will distance themselves from the movement, which he said was proposed by an “overseas outlawed group”.

The self-exiled Rainsy made the call on July 17.

But his proposed unity government has been cited by independent analysts and civil society groups as “impossible” because of the differences between Cambodia and Myanmar.

Korm told The Post on August 3 that some former CNRP members continued to apply for political rehabilitation while those who have been reinstated have since established new parties

Korm added that politicians who have re-entered politics confirmed his belief of the CNRP’s inability to re-emerge as a political force, especially as the two top party leaders –Rainsy and Kem Sokha – could not engage in politics.

Another reason, he explained, is that former CNRP members have decided to move on and do not want to be involved in overseas political activities, especially Rainsy’s proposed national unity government, which could lead to further difficulties.

“I predict and I have also heard some rumours that former CNRP members may join the CPP or form a new party,” Korm said.

Chheum Kan, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Administration, said 24 former CNRP members have been allowed to return to politics while two were rejected.

However, Kan did not comment on whether more former CNRP members would request political rehabilitation, saying only that they will be considered upon request.

On August 1, the prime minister refused to grant political rights to former prominent CNRP members Choung Chou Ngy and Nhim Kim Nhol because they had committed additional offences in contravene of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“I have the rights to decide whether to return political rights to someone through the interior ministry. But the interior minister’s report to me had attached the person’s wrongdoing after the court revoked their rights. If they have not done anything wrong, we will allow them to regain their rights,” Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen said if he refused to sign the request, it would not be referred to the King.

The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November 2017 with 118 senior party officials banned from engaging in politics for five years.