Dropping all pretense of political civility, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday threatened to have the courts seize property belonging to opposition leader Sam Rainsy, including the CNRP’s headquarters, and proposed a legal amendment that would ban Mr. Rainsy from political party leadership.
The property seizures, Mr. Hun Sen said, could begin as soon as the courts delivered a final decision on a defamation lawsuit he has brought against Mr. Rainsy seeking $1 million. It is the same amount the opposition leader said the prime minister offered to a young political activist to attack the CNRP.
Mr. Hun Sen told Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, who won a previous defamation case that earned Mr. Rainsy a two-year prison sentence, to have his lawyer ask the courts to freeze the CNRP president’s assets. He said they should do so until additional decisions were made on defamation suits brought by himself and National Assembly President Heng Samrin.
“Whenever the verdict is finalized, so let’s freeze the property by asking for an injunction warrant and then auction those properties,” the prime minister said at a session of parliament boycotted by the CNRP. “I heard that the party’s headquarters is under Sam Rainsy’s name, so then let’s auction the party’s headquarters.”
Mr. Hun Sen said Mr. Rainsy also had a number of land holdings in Preah Sihanouk province that could be sold to pay plaintiffs, reiterating that any money he received from the case would go toward building houses for disabled people.
The premier also requested that CPP lawmakers, who hold a majority of seats in parliament, move to amend the Law on Political Parties to include a provision that would ban convicts from serving as president of a party. The move would prevent Mr. Rainsy, who is wanted for arrest in Cambodia and living in exile in Paris, from officially leading the CNRP.
“We have allowed them to do many things. So this time no. It’s necessary to amend the Law on Political Parties—because it’s only required to have 50 percent plus one for an amendment—to state that those who are found guilty have no rights to stand as president of a political party.”
“I request to make a change on this to make him lose all rights,” Mr. Hun Sen said of Mr. Rainsy. “Those who are found guilty have no rights to stand as president or deputy president of a political party.”
Deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha has been the acting CNRP president since Mr. Rainsy decided not to return to Cambodia to face arrest in November 2015. Mr. Rainsy has since been officially banned from returning to Cambodia, a move the government said was necessary to maintain stability in the country.
Tuesday’s session of parliament was held to amend new National Assembly internal rules, part of a deal between the CNRP and CPP that ended the post-election political crisis in 2014, to remove an article creating an official “minority group” and “minority leader” to engage in dialogue with the prime minister.
That measure was passed by the 67 ruling party lawmakers present. The CNRP’s 54 lawmakers boycotted the session.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Tuesday’s National Assembly session was held to amend the new election law.