Rainsy Warns of New Demonstrations if NEC Not Reformed
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Wednesday that the CNRP will renew mass demonstrations if the ruling CPP continues to reject a proposal to make the membership of the National Election Committee (NEC) more representative.
Speaking to supporters in Thbong Khmom province, which was recently created from an eastern portion of Kompong Cham province, Mr. Rainsy issued his protest warning after Monday’s second joint-party meeting on election reform stalled over the CPP’s rejection of the CNRP’s proposal that two-thirds of National Assembly lawmakers be required to agree on the appointment of new NEC members.
The NEC’s leadership is currently handpicked by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP. The CPP has said it will not consider the opposition’s proposal, which would end its control over the composition of the election organizing body.
Mr. Rainsy also said that his party will not attend next Monday’s meeting with the CPP if the proposal to reform the NEC is not accepted.
“First, we stop negotiations,” Mr. Rainsy said in a video of the event that was posted to his Facebook page.
“They [the CPP] just wants to waste our time cheating foreigners—not Cambodians, as Cambodians know this well.”
“They make [foreigners] confused that we are getting along and are in the process of negotiations, [so they can ask] ‘please give us [aid] money,’” he said.
“So we stop negotiations and tell foreigners not to give money to these thieves. If they don’t agree to change the NEC, it means that they want to steal votes so there can be no talk. When they change the NEC, we will talk.”
Demonstrations will be the only alternative, Mr. Rainsy added.
“We will prepare another demonstration,” he said.
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Dual citizenship for lawmakers attacked
Legistation should be amended to prohibit elected officials from taking office if they hold dual citizenship, according to senior Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap.
Yeap on Monday said that the office of prime minister should be reserved exclusively for Cambodian nationals, but yesterday expanded the call to include all elected lawmakers.
“For the seat of the prime minister and for lawmakers, they should have only Cambodian citizenship in order to ensure their loyalty,” he said.
Yeap admitted that some CPP elected officials hold dual citizenship, but said he was unaware of the exact number.
“I am not sure how many CPP officials hold dual citizenship, but I know it is not many.”
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party yesterday hit back at Yeap’s comments, saying that a more pressing issue the CPP should look at was illegal immigration.
Yim Sovann, CNRP spokesman, said that the granting of economic land concessions to “foreigners” and the flow of immigrants from abroad should be a higher priority.
“I think the CPP should pay attention to illegal immigrants … and human rights abuses,” he said. “Foreigners come here to control the land, [the government gives] 99-year land concessions to the foreigners. This is the real issue.”
Sok Sam Oeun of the Cambodian Defenders Project pointed to the apparent hypocrisy of a senior CPP official making such a statement, when elected CPP representatives hold foreign passports. “If they pass this law, it’s against the unity of all Khmer people. What about the former prime minister exiled in another country? Do they commit a crime?” he asked.
“I think many CPP [officials hold dual citizenship]. Chheang Vun is also from abroad. He holds two nationalities. I think [Minister of Commerce] Sun Chantol [is] also from abroad.”
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Dear Mr. Baird;
Thank you very much for taking time to respond to us concerning the Election Irregularities and the latest political development in Cambodia. Many Cambodians and their diasporas in North America have relentlessly advocated for free, fair and just election in Cambodia. They have petitioned to the United Nations particularly the co-signatory countries of Paris Peace Agreement in 23 October 1991 to help enforce the ruling Cambodian People’s Party to abide by the national constitution and the international laws.
Recently, the government-led party used national security arm-force to beat and shoot those worker protesters from various garment factories who demanded the increase of decent wage of $160US per month.
There are remaining huge challenges of impunity in this country. There have been continual of extra-judicial killing, arresting and jailing in this country. As the result from the protesting disperse with arm-force, the government is still jailing 21 workers and unionists, and ban the freedom of assembly in which more than 9 people grouping together is prohibited.
We, the Cambodian-Canadians are desperate to seeing the continual violation of human rights in Cambodia.
We would like to submit our gratitude to the Canadian Government that has renewed support of political institution development, the rule of laws, and the ongoing peaceful negotiation between CNRP and CPP to tackle the problem of election flaws in order to conduct in-dept reform of this electoral institution to be acceptable from all stakeholders.
At the moment, the Cambodian diaporas worldwide have also been collecting the petition from our bothers and sisters to demand the right to vote in Cambodia national election so that we can participate with social, economic and political development in Cambodia.
Project Team Leader of CEROC
(Commission for Election Right of Oversea Cambodians)
Seng Sophoan and Co-signatories
Dear Seng Sophoan and Co-signatories:
Thank you for your correspondence of August 16, 2013, expressing your concerns regarding the elections in the Kingdom of Cambodia. I regret the delay in replying to you.
The Government of Canada closely followed events in Cambodia. Canada encourages all sides to seek a peaceful and transparent resolution to the disputes pertaining to the election results.
The Government of Canada has been involved in several projects in Cambodia, including programs aimed at developing democratic institutions by improving the capacity of the National Assembly, the Senate and electoral institutions.
Canada will continue to encourage democracy and the rule of law in Cambodia. Canadian officials will continue to monitor developments in Cambodia and raise specific concerns with Cambodian authorities.
Thank you for taking the time to write and share your concerns.
John Baird, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Dual Citizens May Be Banned From Prime Minister Role
Emerging from a meeting on electoral reform Monday, senior ruling party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said that the government is considering modifying Cambodia’s nationality law to ban those with dual citizenship from running for the office of prime minister.
Mr. Yeap, who represented the CPP at the second meeting of the new joint-party Electoral Reform Committee on Monday, explained that the change, which he said would help prevent treason, would not be introduced immediately but was one of the government’s long-term plans.
“We want the prime minister to have only a single nationality, and not two nationalities,” Mr. Yeap told reporters after the meeting.
“For example, if someone has two nationalities—one French and one Khmer—when the Khmer have a dispute with the French, which side will that prime minister take?” Mr. Yeap asked.
“This will take a long time and will be in the nationality law.”
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who lived in Paris until 1993 after his family was exiled under then-Prince Sihanouk in 1965, holds dual French and Cambodian citizenship. The CNRP president has twice fled to France to avoid criminal convictions—most recently between 2009 and 2013—in a case brought against him by the government.
Mr. Rainsy said by telephone Monday that he would be prepared to renounce his French citizenship if the ruling CPP introduced such a measure.
“Of course I would give up my French citizenship,” he said. “I would give up my life for this country, this is only a minor problem.”
Mr. Rainsy said he no longer needed France as a “safe place” to flee what he termed intimidation and violence from the ruling CPP.
“This has been a strength,” Mr. Rainsy said. “But now my strength is the support of the Cambodian people. With this strength, and with the overwhelming and growing support of the Cambodian people, I am invincible. I do not need anything else.”
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