Khmer News in En

Cambodian Opposition Sees Revocation of Diplomatic Passports as Further Harassment

Lawmakers from Cambodia’s main opposition party said on Thursday that a move by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government to rescind the diplomatic passports of 56 party officials and parliamentarians was another attempt to harass them following their party’s dissolution.

Senator Sor Chandeth, who is among the 56 lawmakers and senators whose diplomatic passports were revoked and declared null and void by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, told RFA’s Khmer Service that he is not surprised by the move.

Anything can happen in a country where political stability is at stake and where “everything is arbitrarily decided by on one man,” he said, referring to Hun Sen who has been in power for nearly 33 years.

“They cannot do that to us,” he said. “It is completely illegal to revoke our passports. It is illegal in the first place to ban us from politics.”

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court formally dissolved the CNRP, and since then has threatened members to change their party affiliation to that of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) in order to keep the jobs for which they had campaigned in local elections in June.

He also has warned opposition party members fleeing the country that they will soon be “sent back” from neighboring Thailand, where many have gone into hiding to escape persecution.

Sor Chandeth said it would be useless to try to file a complaint about Hun Sen’s latest move to suppress the opposition in the run-up to national elections in seven months, because his party controls the courts.

“They are the courts,” he said. “Whatever decision they make is the law. It is utterly unjust.”

Fifty-four of 56 of the diplomatic passports rescinded were issued to CNRP lawmakers, and the other two were issued to two senators, including Sor Chandeth.

The letters dated Nov. 24 that they received from the ministry: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation presents its compliments to all diplomatic and consular missions accredited to Cambodia and has the honor to inform the latter that the following Cambodian diplomatic passports are declared null and void.”

Sorn Chey, executive director of the Cambodia-based Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, said the move is a routine administrative matter because the CNRP officials were expelled from their offices after their party was dissolved.

“Though their diplomatic passports have been revoked, they still can use their regular Cambodian passports,” he said.

He said that all other official documents related to their positions will become null and void as well.

But Sor Chey also said the government’s efforts to eliminate the opposition party, a free press, and independent civil society organizations, will have a long-term negative impact on Cambodia’s international relations.

Hun Sen’s government has faced widespread condemnation by rights groups and the international community in recent months over its actions targeting the CNRP, as well as its orchestration of the closure of independent media outlets and its crackdown on NGOs.

Three new NEC members

In a related development, three CNRP officials who resigned from Cambodia’s National Election Committee (NEC) after their party was dissolved are being replaced by CPP loyalists or affiliates.

One new member from the CPP has been proposed along with two members from two minor parties for seats on the NEC, the agency that supervises Cambodia’s national elections.

Kuoy Bunroeun, Te Manyrong, and Rong Chhun — all CNRP nominees — resigned from their posts on Nov. 20 to protest the court ruling dissolving the CNRP and new laws reassiging members’ parliamentary seats and commune councilor positions to government-aligned parties.

The NEC’s six remaining members include four CPP nominees, designated “neutral member” Hang Puthea, and former Supreme Court prosecutor Hing Thirith, the only remaining CNRP pick.

The National Assembly is scheduled to vote to elect the three new members on Dec. 7.

Dim Sovannarom, vice chairman of the Cambodian government’s controversial Human Rights Committee and head of the Public Affairs Section of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, is one of the proposed candidates for an NEC seat. He is seen as leaning toward the CCP.

The other two candidates — Nuth Sokhom from Funcinpec and Hel Sarath from the Cambodian Nationality Party — are from minor political parties that have been distributed some seats taken from the dissolved CNRP.

Cambodian political analyst Meas Ny told RFA that the appointment of new members call the NEC’s independence into question because they will only serve as a rubber stamp for the body.

“An independent NEC is vital to rebuild trust and Cambodia’s image in the eyes of Cambodians and the international community,” he said. “However, a free and fair election does not start only on election day. The whole process, including the pre-election period, the election itself, and the post-election period, will all be taken into account.”

Kan Savang, coordinator of election observers for the Committee on Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel), also questioned the legitimacy of the proposed new NEC members.

“As we can see, at least two proposed members are from the two political parties that didn’t win a single seat in the 2013 national election,” he said. “On top of that, the event leading up this moment has been tainted with political repression, which has led to the dissolution of the opposition party.”

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Nareth Muong. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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Cambodia Launches Probe Into Leading Rights Group Following Call From PM Hun Sen

Cambodia’s government on Wednesday launched a probe into a leading human rights organization, days after Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to shut it down, prompting an outcry from groups who called the move further evidence of the country’s slide into dictatorship ahead of elections next year.

Deputy director-general of the Ministry of Interior’s General Directorate of Administration Chhim Kan told government-aligned Fresh News that his ministry had initiated a “study and investigation” into the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)—a rights group cofounded by opposition leader Kem Sokha, who is currently in pretrial detention facing charges of treason.

The ministry “has yet to decide CCHR’s fate,” Chhim Kan said, adding that expert officials are awaiting the outcome of the investigation to determine how to proceed.

Over the weekend, Hun Sen said that the group “will have to be shut down” because Kem Sokha “followed foreigners to create the center in Cambodia,” noting that “this is the same guy who incited people to topple the government.”

In response to Hun Sen’s comments, CCHR issued a statement affirming its “non-partisanship” and “independence from all political parties,” and said any independent and impartial investigation into its activities would “find no wrongdoing whatsoever.”

Kem Sokha was arrested on Sept. 3 for allegedly collaborating with the U.S. to overthrow the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP)—charges the U.S. embassy has rejected. Cambodia’s Supreme Court on Nov. 16 ruled that his opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) be dissolved for its part in the plot, essentially eliminating Hun Sen’s competition ahead of a general election scheduled for July 2018.

Hun Sen’s government has faced widespread condemnation in recent months over its actions targeting the CNRP, as well as for orchestrating the closure of independent media outlets and cracking down on nongovernmental organizations.

International response

Local and international organizations suggested that the investigation into CCHR could lead to a wider shut down of NGOs in Cambodia, and decried it as arbitrary and lacking legal basis.

Toronto-based IFEX, a global network of groups promoting free expression that counts CCHR as a member, “strongly and unequivocally” condemned Hun Sen’s call for an investigation into the organization following “the politically motivated” dissolution of the CNRP and arrest of Kem Sokha.

“The closure of such a principled and dedicated group as CCHR would be devastating for the safeguarding of Cambodians’ rights at a time when they are under increasing threat, and would irrevocably add to the climate of censorship that has taken hold,” said IFEX executive director Annie Game.

“Considered alongside other important voices that have been silenced, such a brazen action would signal to the world that Cambodia’s stated support for free expression and association is an empty platitude.”

IFEX urged the government to drop its “baseless” investigation into CCHR, in accordance with protections for freedom of expression and association enshrined in Cambodia’s constitution, and called on the international community, including donors and trade partners, to pressure Cambodia over the case.

IFEX’s statement echoed earlier concerns over Hun Sen’s comments from the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), which said in a post on its Facebook page over the weekend that his attacks on the CCHR constituted “further evidence of Cambodia’s continued slide deeper into dictatorship.”

In the post, APHR chairperson Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament, said the push to shut down the group “is the ruthless action of a dictator, and it will perpetuate widespread fear among civil society.”

He called on authorities to “immediately reverse course and allow CCHR to continue its important work free from threats and intimidation,” adding that international partners should worry about the implications for productive engagement and sustainable development in Cambodia, given the country’s shrinking civic space.

Local reaction

Soeung Sen Karona, spokesperson for local rights group ADHOC, told RFA Wednesday that if authorities are going to conduct an investigation into the CCHR, it must be done transparently, instead of simply as a response to Hun Sen’s comments.

He added that the Ministry of the Interior must look into the benefits that CCHR has provided to society, calling the group an “unequivocal partner for strengthening respect of human rights and social justice in Cambodia.”

“We hope that what Hun Sen has said are simply his remarks and that those who conduct the [investigation] will do so in a professional manner,” he said.

“Should they fail to find any [evidence] backing up [Hun Sen’s] claim, such a crucial institution should be maintained so that it can further contribute to helping society and the nation in accordance with the government’s goal of respecting human rights and democracy.”

Since late August, the government has also expelled U.S.-funded NGO the National Democratic Institute (NDI), suspended some 20 radio stations that aired content by U.S. broadcasters Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, and forced the closure of the English-language Cambodia Daily with a hefty tax bill.

Since Kem Sokha’s arrest, some 20 CNRP lawmakers, along with deputy presidents Mu Sochua and Eng Chhay Eang and a number of party activists, have fled Cambodia fearing retaliation by the CPP following important electoral gains by the opposition in June’s commune ballot, which are seen as pointing to a strong showing in next year’s vote.

Last month, a group of 55 nongovernmental organizations said a “severe deterioration in the state of human rights and democracy” in Cambodia required a reconvening of the Paris Peace Conference, which ended conflict in the nation in 1991 and led to the U.N.’s administration of its government during its transition to a system of democratic elections.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Sovannarith Keo. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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Cambodia’s Hun Sen Warns CNRP Members Fleeing the Country They Will be ‘Sent Back’

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is warning opposition party members fleeing the country that they will soon be “sent back” from neighboring Thailand, where many have gone into hiding to escape persecution.

In a speech addressing thousands of garment workers in the capital on Sunday, Hun Sen railed against Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP)  commune councilors who had resisted repeated calls from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to defect to Hun Sen’s side.

“Don’t think I don’t know where you are hiding,” Hun Sen said in remarks aimed at CNRP party members who were elected to local commune posts in elections held earlier this year.

“Soon, you will all be deported,” Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen’s threats came on the Nov. 26 date of a third and final ultimatum by which members of the opposition CNRP, now formally dissolved by court order, were to have switched party affiliation in order to keep the jobs for which they had campaigned in June.

He had first targeted those elected to the posts, setting an ultimatum for Nov. 16, the date on which the CNRP was dissolved, Hun Sen said in Phnom Penh on Sunday.

“When the elected CNRP officials were not convinced, I targeted the candidates who had also run, and this worked. They will now be given the seats of those elected officials who failed to join us,” he said.

A new ultimatum targeting opposition party hold-outs was set for Nov. 24, and then extended to Nov. 26, Hun Sen said.

“You will never be able to forecast what Hun Sen will do,” he said. “People inside the CPP can’t even predict my moves, let alone members of the opposition.”

Out of a total of 5,007 opposition members elected to commune posts earlier this year, around 200 have now joined the CPP in order to keep their jobs, CNRP officials say, while pro-government media put the figure at a number about 10 times higher.

‘Barbaric leader’

Speaking to RFA’s Khmer Service on Tuesday, CNRP deputy vice president Eng Chhai Eang, who now lives in exile in the U.S., slammed Hun Sen’s threat to force the return of CNRP party members from Thailand, calling the Cambodian prime minister a “barbaric leader.”

“But I don’t believe that the Thai prime minister will do what Hun Sen wants him to do. The Thai authorities have a much better appreciation for human rights,” he said.

Though banned by order of Cambodia’s CPP-aligned Supreme Court, “We are not going to create a new party,” Eng Chhai Eang told RFA.

“Our main objective now is to move forward to the next national election. We are demanding the immediate release of [jailed party leader] Kem Sokha. We need to compete in the next national election as the CNRP.”

“The international community is considering imposing sanctions on Hun Sen’s government, and we hope to see a solution come from that in the near future,” he said.

Kem Sokha was arrested on Sept. 3 for allegedly collaborating with the U.S. to overthrow the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP)—charges the U.S. embassy has rejected. Cambodia’s Supreme Court on Nov. 16 unanimously ruled that the CNRP be dissolved for its part in the plot, essentially eliminating any competition to Hun Sen ahead of a general election scheduled for July 2018.

Hun Sen’s government has faced widespread condemnation in recent months over its actions targeting the CNRP, as well as for orchestrating the closure of independent media outlets and cracking down on nongovernmental organizations.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Nareth Muong. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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Cambodia’s Hun Sen Calls For Investigation, Ban on Leading Rights Group

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the country’s Ministry of the Interior to investigate and shut down a leading human rights group in a move that appears linked to charges of treason facing opposition leader Kem Sokha and the recent dissolution of his Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

In a speech addressing thousands of garment workers in the capital Phnom Penh on Sunday, Hun Sen said that the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)—cofounded by Kem Sokha in 2002—“will have to be shut down” because it was “commissioned in accordance with foreign ideas.”

“The ministry of interior needs to look into this matter, because it was created by foreigners, not by Cambodians,” Hun Sen said.

“This involves a Cambodian [Kem Sokha] who followed foreigners to create the center in Cambodia. This is the same guy who incited people to topple the government … We have laws that prohibit Cambodians from contacting or serving foreign powers.”

Kem Sokha was arrested on Sept. 3 for allegedly collaborating with the U.S. to overthrow the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP)—charges the U.S. embassy has rejected. Cambodia’s Supreme Court on Nov. 16 unanimously ruled that the CNRP be dissolved for its part in the plot, essentially eliminating any competition to Hun Sen ahead of a general election scheduled for July 2018.

Hun Sen’s government has faced widespread condemnation in recent months over its actions targeting the CNRP, as well as for orchestrating the closure of independent media outlets and cracking down on nongovernmental organizations.

In response to Hun Sen’s comments, CCHR issued a statement Sunday affirming its “non-partisanship” and “independence from all political parties.”

“Strict independence is a core value of CCHR, which strives to provide a balanced and principled human rights analysis of public affairs, without favoring any party,” the statement said.

“In fact, CCHR is one of the very few groups in Cambodia which has faced backlash from both the ruling party and the opposition as a result of its principled criticism of their policies, actions or rhetoric.”

CCHR said it believes that any independent and impartial investigation into its activities would “find no wrongdoing whatsoever,” and called on the government to enter into dialogue in order to resolve allegations against it.

Other reactions

Pa Nguon Teang, executive director at the Cambodian Center for Independent Media and cofounder of the CCHR, told RFA’s Khmer Service that he had “grave concerns” over Hun Sen’s remarks, noting that the rights group and other NGOs had played important roles in building the nation over the past two decades.

“It’s completely wrong to say that the center was created by foreigners,” said Pa Nguon Teang, who is also the director of the independent Voice of Democracy Radio station in Cambodia.

“If Hun Sen orders the closure of the CCHR based on the accusation that it is funded by foreign funds, then he will have to close down all NGOs in Cambodia, as none of them receives funds from the Cambodian government—they are all funded by foreign governments.”

While CCHR receives foreign funding, he said, the organization works to improve human rights and democracy in Cambodia, and thus benefits Cambodians.

“If this center is closed, Cambodians will be the ones who lose,” Pa Nguon Teang said.

“Hun Sen is selfish. He is trying to consolidate and cling on to power through political repression of NGOs, the free press, and the opposition, using the law as a façade.”

New York-based Human Rights Watch also weighed in on Hun Sen’s comments Monday, urging international donors to pressure the government to end its investigation into the CCHR and permit the group to continue its rights work.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen needed little time after shutting down the main opposition party to go after a major human rights group,” Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch’s Asia director, said in a statement.

“The prime minister is showing his fear not only of free elections, but of free expression and association.”

Human Rights Watch said that the current crackdown in Cambodia appears linked to concerns that the CPP may lose next year’s ballot, following significant gains by the CNRP during the 2013 national elections and commune elections held in June this year.

It said that the U.S. and European Union “should do more” than recent threats of action in response to the crackdown, and called on Cambodia’s donors and trade partners to impose targeted sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, on Hun Sen and senior members of the CPP and Cambodia’s armed forces.

“Hun Sen’s increasing attacks on Cambodia’s human rights groups are nearing the point of no return,” Adams said.

“Without a legitimate political opposition in the country, Cambodians need a vibrant and independent civil society more than ever.”

Parliament changes

Hun Sen’s call for the shuttering of the CCHR came as 44 officials from three minor government-aligned political parties that failed to win seats in Cambodia’s 2013 general election gathered at the National Assembly, or parliament, Sunday to be recognized as new lawmakers, following the dissolution of the CNRP and reallocation of its 55 seats.

According to amendments to the electoral law recently passed by the CPP-majority parliament, the National Assembly announced Sunday that it would reallocate 41 of the CNRP’s seats to the royalist FUNCINPEC party, two to the Cambodian Nationality Party, and one to the Khmer Economic Development Party.

The League for Democracy Party and Khmer Anti-Poverty Party refused to accept six and five of the CNRP’s former seats, respectively. Those 11 seats now belong to the CPP.

CNRP deputy president Eng Chhay Eang—who has fled Cambodia fearing retaliation from the CPP along with more than half of his party’s lawmakers—posted a photo of the new lawmakers in front of the National Assembly building on his Facebook page Sunday, commenting that “these are the people who have robbed the people of their votes and will.”

His post echoed a statement from the CNRP last week, after the National Election Committee (NEC) submitted a list of reallocations for the party’s 55 seats, which said the electoral body had “colluded with the CPP and the Supreme Court to rob Cambodians of their legitimate votes.”

Kem Sokha’s lawyer, Hem Socheat, noted that the National Assembly’s mandate lasts for five years, according to Cambodia’s constitution, and likened the redistribution of the CNRP’s seats to “dissolving” parliament.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay also questioned the legitimacy of the redistribution, saying that the more than three million people who had voted for the CNRP would no longer enjoy representation in parliament.

“[The new members of parliament] are not the representatives of the people—I don’t know who they represent,” he said.

“Based on the constitution, a lawmaker is legitimate only after he is elected in a free and fair election.”

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Nareth Muong. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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US Sanctions Chinese, North Korean Organizations Over Illicit Trade

The United States on Tuesday slapped sanctions on 13 Chinese and North Korean organizations accused of helping evade nuclear and trade restrictions against Pyongyang, the Treasury Department announced.

“Today’s sanctions target third-country persons with long-standing commercial ties to North Korea, as well as the transportation networks that facilitate North Korea’s revenue generation and operations,” said the U.S. Treasury in a statement on its website.

The new sanctions, which underscore the Donald Trump administration renewed focus on trade between China and North Korea, came a day after Washington had redesignated North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, reversing a 2008 decision aimed at facilitating nuclear talks.

“As North Korea continues to threaten international peace and security, we are steadfast in our determination to maximize economic pressure to isolate it from outside sources of trade and revenue while exposing its evasive tactics,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

“These designations include companies that have engaged in trade with North Korea cumulatively worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  We are also sanctioning the shipping and transportation companies, and their vessels, that facilitate North Korea’s trade and its deceptive maneuvers.”

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned one individual, 13 entities, and 20 vessels, the statement said.

Included on the blacklist are three Chinese companies, Dandong Kehua Economy & Trade Co., Dandong Xianghe Trading Co., and Dandong Hongda Trade Co., which the Treasury Department said have done more than $750 million in trade with North Korea.

Also hit by sanctions was Chinese national Sun Sidong and his company, Dandong Dongyuan Industrial Co., said to have sold more than $28 million worth of goods to North Korea.

The new sanctions also hit the Korea South-South Cooperation Corporation, which is involved in exporting North Korean workers to China, Russia, Cambodia and Poland to raise hard cash for the Kim Jong Un regime.

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International Donors Pulling Support For Cambodia After Opposition Party Ban

International donors are ending aid to Cambodia or ramping up threats to do so after Prime Minister Hun Sen defended a crackdown that critics say has damaged the country’s fragile democracy and thrown the legitimacy of an upcoming ballot into question.

Hun Sen’s government has faced widespread condemnation in recent months over actions targeting the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), as well as for orchestrating the closure of independent media outlets and restricting NGOs, ahead of general elections scheduled for July 2018.

Cambodia’s Supreme Court on Nov. 16 unanimously ruled that the CNRP be dissolved for its part in plotting a “coup” against the government, essentially eliminating any competition to Hun Sen in next year’s vote.

Since the decision, the international community has rained condemnation down on Cambodia and threatened to take action against its government if restrictions are not lifted. But Hun Sen has remained defiant, saying he would “welcome” any withdrawal of aid and that Cambodia will rely on assistance from China—one of the few countries to support his nation following the court ruling.

On Monday, during bilateral meetings on the margins of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) of Foreign Ministers in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw, European Union chief of foreign affairs and security policy Federica Mogherini reiterated a warning to Cambodia’s government that it should not expect current levels of cooperation to continue unless the CNRP is reinstated.

According to a statement issued by the European External Action Service, Mogherini stressed to Cambodian foreign minister Prak Sokhon her expectations that “recent, significant steps away from the path of pluralism and democracy enshrined in Cambodia’s constitution, such as the … dissolution of the Cambodian National Rescue Party, will be swiftly reversed.”

Mogherini, who is also vice president of the European Commission, urged Cambodia’s government to free CNRP President Kem Sokha, who was arrested on Sept. 3 for allegedly collaborating with the U.S. to overthrow the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP)—charges the U.S. embassy has rejected.

The EU foreign affairs chief made clear to her Cambodian counterpart that “the European Union’s development cooperation and trade preferences are reliant on [Cambodia’s] respect for fundamental human rights and democratic principles,” the statement said.

On Tuesday, Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs—which last week vowed to “review the forms of our engagement” with Phnom Penh—said in a statement through its embassy that Sweden “will not initiate any new government-to-government development cooperation agreements” with Cambodia, except in the areas of education and research.

“Sweden considers political developments in Cambodia deeply worrying,” the statement said, adding that recent measures against the opposition, the media and civil society organizations “represent a serious setback for democratic development and human rights” in the country.

“It will therefore not be possible to continue our support to the decentralization reform in its current form.”

Latest measures

The statements from the EU and government of Sweden are the latest to announce an end to aid or threaten to do so following the Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve the CNRP.

Last week, the White House said in a statement that the U.S. will begin taking “concrete steps to respond to the Cambodian government’s deeply regrettable actions” by terminating support for Cambodia’s National Election Committee (NEC) and its administration of the July 2018 general election.

China was one of the few nations to speak out in support of the decision, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang telling reporters at a briefing last week that Beijing would stand behind Cambodia in pursuing its own development path.

Hun Sen on Monday proposed that the U.S. “cut off all aid to Cambodia entirely,” which he said would result in the “death of all local NGOs,” and warned that “those who die first will be the NGOs that are plotting against us.”

Observers have warned that aid cuts will adversely affect Cambodia’s garment sector, which provides more than one million jobs to workers, and note that Cambodia relies heavily on trade preferences from the U.S. and EU to support the industry.

Clearing house

Meanwhile, Cambodia’s government has continued its bid to eradicate all trappings of the CNRP from the political stage following last week’s ruling, preventing the party’s elected officials from continuing their work, and deploying authorities to remove billboards, flags and other opposition paraphernalia around the country.

On Tuesday, the National Assembly, or parliament, fired more than 100 civil servants from the CNRP, and confiscated official party vehicles and other equipment, according to an announcement from the assembly’s general secretary Leng Peng Long.

The civil servants will be given salaries until Nov. 24, at which point they will have to clear out their offices and return their supplies.

“Parliament has various agents who are waiting to receive all this equipment,” he said.

Nhem Savoeuy, deputy general secretary of the National Assembly, confirmed that the government had confiscated five vehicles from five CNRP officials, without providing further details.

Political analyst Lao Monghay told RFA’s Khmer Service that he viewed the National Assembly’s actions as borderline violations of the rule of law and democratic principles.

“They should not fire the CNRP administrative officials like this,” he said.

Hun Sen has announced that when the CNRP is dissolved, its parliamentary seats will be redistributed to other government-aligned political parties, and has pressured CNRP officials who were elected in Cambodia’s June commune ballot to defect to the CPP.

The CNRP holds 55 seats in the National Assembly, around 5,000 councilor positions at the commune level, and nearly 800 provincial/municipal level councilor positions.

Since Kem Sokha’s arrest, more than half of CNRP lawmakers, along with deputy presidents Mu Sochua and Eng Chhay Eang and a number of party activists, have fled Cambodia fearing retaliation by the CPP following electoral gains by the opposition in June’s commune ballot, which are seen as pointing to a strong showing in next year’s vote.

Reported by Nareth Muong and RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Sarada Taing. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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