Alleged Terrorist Group Meets With Ministry Over Party Plans

The Ministry of Interior on Friday told the Khmer People Power Movement (KPPM), a group Prime Minister Hun Sen has labeled a terrorist organization dedicated to his violent overthrow, that it will authorize the creation of a politicial party—once alterations have been made to it’s application.

Sieng Sopheareak, secretary general of the KPPM’s Khmer People Pow­er Party, said ministry officials high­lighted several errors in the party’s application, including the ink color used to fill out the form. 

“It is a mistake from my side, it is a technical mistake because the application was written in different pens and the names of some of our supporters were misspelled,” he said.

Officials also said the political group’s current name would not be sanctioned, as a now-defunct group held a similar name, while the fledgling party’s logo would need to be changed as it too closely resembles the national flag, Mr. Sopheareak said.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has just wrapped up a three-day trial of KPPM president Sourn Serey Ratha, who was being tried in absentia, on charges of plotting an attack against the state and obstructing elections. The verdict is due next month.

Speaking on the phone from his current base in Thailand, Mr. Serey Ra­tha said he would return to Cambodia if the ministry authorizes the creation of a KPPM political group despite the lengthy prison term he faces if convicted.

“I am now ready to return if the government of Cambodia allows the KPPM to register the legal political party in Cambodia,” Mr. Serey Ratha said.

“Right now the government accuses the KPPM of making a government outside the country—that’s why I tried to make a registration in Cambodia so it is legal as a political party.”

“I am not afraid or fearful about this case and the accusations against me. I want to return to meet my supporters,” he added.

Or Bony, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s political affairs department, declined to comment and directed questions to Khieu Sopheak, the ministry’s spokesman, who could not be reached.

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