Cambodia passes bill to stifle opposition
Cambodia's National Assembly on July 10 passed a bill which prohibits political parties from being affiliated with convicted criminals. Commentators believe the law is aimed at weakening the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). The CNRP's former leader, Sam Rainsy, recently resigned from the party after he was sentenced to two years in prison on defamation charges. As a result of the new law, Rainsy will no longer be able to be affiliated with the CNRP in any manner. The CNRP gained significant political strength in the 2013 Cambodian elections when the party took a total of 55 seats in the National Assembly, leading many to believe the defamation charges against Rainsy were politically motivated.
From Jurist, July 11. Used with permission.
Note: Local CNRP candidates have recently been receiving support from peasants usurped of their lands by agribusiness, in particular Chinese-backed sugar interests in Preah Vihear province. Peasant activists opposing these land-grabs have been imprisoned on what international rights groups call "politically motivated" charges. The ruling Cambodian People's Party has heavily militarzied Preah Vihear in response to the unrest. (HRW, July 14; GRAIN, June 8; Phnom Penh Post, June 4; The Guardian, June 3; Phnom Penh Post, May 29)