Alleged Terrorist’s Party Application Accepted

The Ministry of Interior on Monday accepted an application for the formation of a new political party submitted by the self-exiled leader of a dissident group that Prime Minister Hun Sen has personally branded a terrorist organization.

The Khmer People Power Movement (KPPM)—headed from the U.S. by its president, Sourn Serey Ratha—on Monday posted online a copy of its application to form the Khmer People Power Party bearing a December 15 stamp from both the Interior Ministry and the ministry’s political affairs department.

“I and 80 Cambodians agree to initiate the formation of the Khmer People Power Party…the KPPP for short,” the application reads.

Chhan Chansopheak, director of the political affairs department, confirmed receipt of the application but declined to comment on the chances of its being approved.

“I will check and forward it to my superior to make a decision,” he said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached Monday. In July, however, when Mr. Serey Ratha announced his plans for a political party, General Sopheak said the dissident was not likely to get his way.

“It’s not suitable for him to lead a party because he has the arrest warrant from the court, so how can he lead the party?” he said at the time.

Mr. Serey Ratha is currently on trial in absentia at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on charges of incitement and plotting to commit an attack against the state—both of which he denies. Three other Cambodians are on trial in the same case for distributing KPPM T-shirts in Battambang province last year printed with a message urging people not to vote in the July 2013 national election.

Mr. Serey Ratha openly advocates for an Arab Spring-style popular uprising that would force Mr. Hun Sen from power, but denies advocating the use of violence or having broken any law.

Mr. Serey Ratha claims he left Cambodia in 2007 and has returned clandestinely on a few occasions. He spends most of his time in the U.S., but lists Battambang’s Bavel district as his current address on the KPPP application and a Phnom Penh address as the proposed party’s headquarters.,

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