Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen attends a National Assembly session in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Feb. 20, 2017. The National Assembly of Cambodia on Monday amended the Law on Political Parties to bar convicted politicians from leading a political party, despite a boycott from the opposition's lawmakers. (Xinhua/Sovannara)
PHNOM PENH, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- The National Assembly of Cambodia on Monday amended the Law on Political Parties to bar convicted politicians from leading a political party, despite a boycott from the opposition's lawmakers.
Under the legal changes, the Supreme Court will be allowed to dissolve any political party over the conviction of a party top leader and ban its entire leadership from political involvement for five years.
Sixty-six ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) lawmakers, including Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, voted in favor of the proposed amendments, as all the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmakers boycotted the voting session in protest against the legal changes.
The parliament comprises 123 lawmakers, including 68 from the CPP and 55 from the CNRP. The amendments to the law needed a 50 percent plus one majority vote, or 63 votes, only.
The legal changes were made following a suggestion from the prime minister earlier this month.
The CNRP said in a statement on Sunday that it did not support the amendments, saying that the legal changes could be used for the suppression and destruction of rival parties.
CNRP's president Sam Rainsy, who has lived in self-exile in France since November 2015 to avoid 7-year imprisonment for defamation and incitement cases, resigned from the party's presidency last week in hopes of saving the CNRP from dissolution.
National Assembly spokesman Leng Peng Long defended the legal changes, saying that they targeted neither the CNRP nor its top officials.
"This is the law, which requires all political parties to comply with. It does not specifically aim at any political party," he told reporters after the parliamentary session.
However, political analysts believed that the changes were aimed at the CNRP ahead of the commune election in June 2017 and the national election in July 2018.
"The amendment aims to put pressures on the opposition party through legal means," said Chheang Vannarith, chairman of the Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies. "It would be counterproductive to national reconciliation."