11/21/2017, 15.24
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Opposition party officials quit or defect after party dissolution

On 16 November, the Supreme Court banned the CNRP at the request of the government. The prime minister gives CNRP officials another week to join his party. The ruling party said it received 390 defectors as of yesterday, including a parliamentarian, 33 provincial councillors, and 356 municipal officials.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Officials elected with the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have started to resign after the Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of the party.

Some party leaders have accepted the offer of Prime Minister Hun Sen (pictured) to abandon the opposition and join the ruling party, but defections account for less than 10 per cent of all CNRP officials.

On 16 November, the Supreme Court outlawed the CNRP at the request of the government, in a move that led the United States to cut off funding for local elections and threaten further punitive measures against the country.

The CNRP was banned following the arrest of its leader, Kem Sokha, on treason charges. The government has accused him of trying to take power with American help.

Sokha has rejected the allegations and slammed Prime Minister Hun Sen, alleging that his indictment is part of plan ahead of next year's election to extend his 32-year rule.

The court ruling, which terminated the only electoral threat to the ruling Cambodia's People Party (CPP), bans 118 senior CNRP officials from politics for five years, including its president, Kem Sokha, and its exiled former leader, Sam Rainsy .

All of the CNRP’s 489 local government positions and all 55 seats in the National Assembly (out of 123) have been declared vacant, and will be given to six smaller parties aligned with the ruling party.

A few hours after the decision, Hun Sen granted CNRP officials two more weeks to join his party. He had made the same offer on 22 October, but less than 200 opposition members had accepted it. Yesterday, the prime minister set the deadline to a week.

The CPP claims that 390 CNRP officials have defected as of yesterday – one parliamentarian, 33 provincial and district councillors, 356 municipal officials, including 33 municipal chiefs. The latter represent about 7 per cent of the 489 chiefs elected in June for CNRP.

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