Kem Sokha will ‘not be eligible’ for reinstatement of rights

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Kem Sokha ‘will not be eligible’ for a reinstatement of political rights, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Thursday. Hong Menea

Senior government officials said on Thursday that regardless of whether a proposed amendment to the law is passed, former opposition leader Kem Sokha will not be eligible for a reinstatement of his political rights as he is involved in an ongoing court case.

Sokha, the former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), is currently on bail awaiting trial on treason charges.

The senior officials’ comments came after the Permanent Committee of the National Assembly put up for review, a proposed amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties.

The amendment would allow the prime minister to request King Norodom Sihamoni to return full political rights to those who have had them removed by the courts.

Ministry of Interior spokesman General Khieu Sopheak told The Post on Thursday that Sokha would not be considered for a review.

“Kem Sokha still has his case pending at the municipal court. He has not yet been tried so he will not be eligible,” he said.

Sopheak said that after Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties is amended, the ministry would review the cases of the 118 CNRP politicians who have been barred by the Supreme Court from engaging in political activities for five years.

He said the ministry would only request the King to restore the political rights to those who had not violated the Supreme Court’s order to stay out of politics, while those who had made political comments insulting the government or “damaged national interests” would not be considered.

“Since November 16 last year, what they have done, how many times they have been involved in demonstrations, how many times they have been quoted in newspapers attacking the government, how many times have been involved in politics, we have all the lists."

“And what they did on Facebook, like insulting the government, we have all, and even more serious, the ones who have damaged national interests. We know, we have seen it as clearly as our palms – we have witnessed with our own eyes and heard with our own ears."

“We have seen all the activities of the 118 individuals. Those who have violated [the order of the courts], and those who have not, we know all,” he said.

The minister Sar Kheng told journalists on Thursday that his ministry would look into the withdrawal of bans handed down to the 118 former CNRP officials by the Supreme Court when the law change came into effect.

“I see those who have respected the verdict [and] priority will be [given] to those who have respected the verdict,” Sar Kheng said.

When asked whether former CNRP president Sokha would be eligible for having his rights returned, Sar Kheng said: [It is for] those who [are considered to] have respected the court’s verdict, so I can’t say.”