“Supreme Court decision is a clear step towards a one-party state and will render next year’s parliamentary elections meaningless,” said the EP’s chair of the ASEAN Delegation Werner Langen.
The Supreme Court of Cambodia dissolved the country’s main opposition party CNRP (Cambodia National Rescue Party) yesterday. The court ruling came by request of the Government, which accused the CNRP of plotting to take power with help from the United States.
The decision means that the CNRP will lose all its elected representatives at the local and national level. Its parliamentary seats will be redistributed to other government-aligned parties after its dissolution. The party will also lose control of the Councils that it won in local elections in June. Conquering more than 40 percent of these Councils made it clear the threat the CNRP poses to the ruling party next year. Moreover, the Court ordered a five-year political ban for 118 senior party officials, including imprisoned party president Kem Sokha, and exiled former leader Sam Rainsy.
In a first reaction, the Chair of the ASEAN Delegation Mr. Langen (EPP, DE) characterised the court ruling arbitrary and politically motivated: “The decision is against the principles and values of democracy, which comprise essentially the possibility to choose among different parties and to change the Government.”
The court ruling adds to a long list of very serious developments in the country. These include the arrest of the opposition leader, Kem Sokha on 3 September, the closure of The Cambodia Daily the day after, continued restrictions on the freedom of expression, the closure of radio stations, arrests of CNRP members and civil society actors, thus undermining representative democracy and human rights in the country.
Mr. Langen concluded with his demands already expressed on 31 October in Phnom Penh. "In order to ensure credible, transparent and inclusive elections in July next year, the country needs an open and transparent level playing field. I therefore urgently call on the Government to restore the space for free action of political parties, media and civil society organisations and release opposition leader Kem Sokha. The EU has allocated up to €410 million to Cambodia for the financial period 2014-2020, mainly in the areas Agriculture, Education and Governance. The Government should be aware that this decision might have implications for development assistance programmes and trade preferences."