Hun Sen urges opposition party members to jump ship now or face political ban

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned senior opposition CNRP officials to defect the party now or they risk facing a five-year political ban, The Phnom Penh Post Online reported on Monday.

“Again, I would like to express that you need to leave early, and don’t believe what they say that Hun Sen dares not (dissolve the party),” said Hun Sen on Sunday, apparently, referring to comments made by former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy last week.

“If I dared not, Hun Sen would order the Ministry of Interior to withdraw the complaint already,” he added.

The Interior Ministry filed a complaint with the Supreme Court last month, accusing the opposition CNRP of treason. The court is expected to rule on the case at a hearing scheduled on November 16.

Hun Sen seemed to offer incentives to CNRP officials to jump ship, saying that he would only ban senior leaders of the opposition party from participating in politics for five years, allowing lower-ranking officials to freely join his CPP.

He said that as many as 112 members of the CNRP’s permanent committee and party board would face the political ban.

Hun Sen’s move appears to correspond with Section 44 of the Political Parties Law which says parties can be banned for five years for “supporting or organizing any plans or conspiracies” against the kingdom.