Sar Kheng defends CNRP dissolution

Phnom Penh: Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Saturday said the dissolution of the former opposition party was done as a result of their mass demonstrations after the 2013 national election.

The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November 2017 after its leader Kem Sokha was jailed on treason charges for allegedly colluding with the United States to overthrow the government through a colour revolution. A total of 118 of its senior officials were also banned from politics for five years.

During a speech in Prey Veng province, Mr Kheng said the former opposition party wanted civil war to return to the Kingdom and that recent calls by former opposition party activists condemning the government should be ignored.

He added that the CNRP brought chaos to the political scene when its members participated in election result protests in 2013 and 2014.

“If it didn’t do anything wrong, then it would not have been dissolved,” Mr Kheng said. “It was dissolved because they assembled people from Prey Veng, Phnom Penh, Kandal and Kampong Speu to challenge election results and topple the winner of the election.”

“They attempted to topple the CPP, should we agree? No, because we were the winner,” he added. “We were fighting back because it was causing chaos. The party had to be dissolved.”

Mr Kheng said that regardless of the dissolution of the CNRP, Cambodia is not a one-party rule due to the participation of nearly 20 political parties during last year’s national election.

Kin Phea, director-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, yesterday said he agrees with Mr Kheng’s statement.

“The main reason was the treason charge levelled against their top leader, a charge that cannot be forgiven by Cambodian law,” Mr Phea said. “If we continue to keep a party that causes social turmoil to operate here, there will be no real peace.”

Former CNRP lawmaker Kang Kimhak yesterday said that the decision to dissolve the party was baseless.

“I think there was no strong evidence or credible witnesses for the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party – they only used video clips of Kem Sokha from his long ago trip to Australia as evidence,” Mr Kimhak said. “The accusation was and is unconvincing – what they’re accusing us of is purely motivated by politics.”