Amid Threats to Its Existence, CNRP Seeks Bylaw Approval

After the Interior Ministry warned this week that it would not recognize the CNRP’s newly elected leaders because the opposition had violated its own bylaws in electing them, the party on Friday said it had asked the ministry to acknowledge its amended bylaws.

In a hastily convened congress on March 2 to replace former party President Sam Rainsy — who resigned in February to protect the party from being outlawed under the new Law on Political Parties — the CNRP first changed the party’s bylaws, then went on to elevate Mr. Sokha to permanent president and Pol Ham, Mu Sochua and Eng Chhay Eang as deputies.

The opposition CNRP’s new leadership stands before a party congress in Phnom Penh on March From left: Kem Sokha, Pol Ham, Mu Sochua and Eng Chhay Eang. (Emil Kastrup/The Cambodia Daily)

However, the ruling party branded the bylaw alterations as illegal, stating that the CNRP should have first submitted its internal rule changes to the government before selecting new leadership, since the party’s old bylaws required a longer waiting period to change president.

Mr. Chhay Eang said on Friday that the party had submitted the amended bylaws to the Interior Ministry on Thursday.

“We are waiting for the official approval from the Ministry of Interior for recognition of Articles 45 and 47 of the party’s bylaw that we amended at the extraordinary congress in March,” he said.

If the ministry recognizes the new bylaws, the party will hold a meeting on Tuesday with the board of directors, of which 102 of the 112 members can re-elect the three deputies, he said.

“The board of directors is planning to hold a meeting on April 4 to discuss the party’s work, but we can decide to vote for the three deputy leaders on the said schedule if the Ministry of Interior officially recognizes the new party bylaw,” he said.

The ministry ratcheted up its warnings against the CNRP on Thursday, warning that it could outlaw or suspend the opposition under the Law on Political Parties, but refused to define what steps the opposition could take to avoid its dissolution.

Officials from the Interior Ministry could not be reached for comment.

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