World Bulletin / News Desk
An electoral watchdog has warned that proposed amendments to Cambodia’s Law on Political Parties are a “clear cause for concern”, because of the government’s existing track record of targeting the opposition.
Earlier this month, it emerged that Prime Minister Hun Sen was considering alterations to a piece of legislation that governs the establishment and conduct of political parties.
One proposed change would enable the government to dissolve political parties if their leaders have a criminal conviction.
This led Sam Rainsy, who co-founded the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), to resign from his post last week.
He remains in exile to avoid imprisonment on a defamation conviction -- one of many cases that he has said are politically motivated.
Over the past few years, a number of human rights activists, opposition members and senators have been targeted or jailed and in July, a prominent government critic was gunned down. The government denied any involvement in that murder.
The National Assembly’s Permanent Committee is planning to review the proposed article changes next week.
On Friday, the Electoral Reform Alliance (ERA) -- a consortium of NGOs -- urged the government not to proceed with adopting any of the changes, one of which empowers the Ministry of Interior to seek the dissolution of parties with the Supreme Court.
According to the ERA, the proposed amendments would “legally authorize the Ministry of Interior of the government of the ruling party and judiciary, both highly controlled by central authorities and the ruling party, to determine the extent to which political opponents could be deemed unfit to participation in politics”.
The group added that the policy would mean political competition could be eliminated if a party or its leaders are accused of “undermining the security of the state”.
The amendments, if passed by the National Assembly, could have a serious impact on the fairness of the upcoming commune elections and next year’s national elections, the watchdog warned.
The last national elections, which were held in 2013, resulted in a disputed outcome and months-long deadlock after the opposition claimed victory, but won just 55 out of the assembly’s 123 seats.
Calls to spokesmen for both the government’s Council of Ministers and the opposition CNRP were unsuccessful Friday.
The decision, implementing a November UN resolution, comes with North Korea in the international spotlight after the assassination in Kuala Lumpur airport of Kim Jong-Nam, the estranged half-brother of leader Kim Jong-Un.
Park Geun-Hye was elected in 2012 with the highest vote share of any presidential candidate in South Korea's democratic era.
Construction workers and contractors were among those arrested on suspicion of negligence that caused the blaze, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
RCEP is seen as a more modest deal that calls for lower and more limited regulatory standards.
Former managers at semi-private Oceanbank accused of allowing $88 million to disappear
Suspected extremist group member blamed for explosion near gov’t building in West Java in critical condition
Interim South Korean leader Hwang Kyo-ahn refuses to extend special prosecution's probe into presidential scandal
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to attend ECO summit this Wednesday, March 1
Malaysian autopsy says VX nerve agent spread rapidly to heart and lungs of older brother of North Korean leader
Ko Ni, a prominent Muslim lawyer and critic of Myanmar's powerful military, was shot dead on 29 January outside Yangon airport in a murder that sent shockwaves through the country's young civilian government.
Police said they had no interest in the two Sri Lankan men, both asylum-seekers, who in 2013 had helped the former US National Security Agency contractor evade authorities in Hong Kong.
Three of nine injured people being treated in hospital are in critical condition, Xinhua news agency said.
Ildar Dadin, 34, emerged from a Siberian penal colony after some 15 months behind bars for repeatedly holding unsanctioned rallies against President Vladimir Putin's rule.
Cooperation picks up after suspension last year due to 'offensive' teaching material at Australian base
Some 10,000 mourners attend memorial service in Yangon to mark one month of the death of Muslim lawyer Ko Ni
The 13 slipped out of the jail in a police camp in San Fernando city north of Manila before dawn, said Derrick Arnold Carreon, spokesman for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.