Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday suggested eventually extending a controversial new provision banning dual nationals from sitting on the National Election Committee (NEC) to also apply to the National Assembly and executive branch, but said there is no pressing reason to do so.
Speaking at Phnom Penh’s InterContinental Hotel, Mr. Hun Sen recalled his private talk with opposition leader Sam Rainsy on November 28, which led Mr. Rainsy to drop his party’s demand that members of the new NEC not be banned from holding dual citizenship.
Mr. Rainsy, who is also a French citizen, had previously argued that such a ban should not apply to NEC members as it does not apply to lawmakers, the executive, the monarchy or the Constitutional Council of Cambodia.
“Nationality is one other thing,” Mr. Hun Sen said Tuesday, recollecting his conversation with Mr. Rainsy. “I said that if you love your nation, why don’t you dare to resign from your [foreign] nationality to serve the nation?”
“So, if you want them all, please [do it]: the Constitutional Council of Cambodia, the Senate, the National Assembly, members of the government and members of the National Election Committee,” the prime minister said.
But Mr. Hun Sen then double-backed on the notion, explaining that what he suggested to Mr. Rainsy during their meeting was not his government’s policy.
“Don’t try to stretch out this single nationality [policy]…because there is no need to look for anyone, the CPP has a lot [of dual citizens], including Ang Vong Vathana,” he said, referring to the justice minister, who is also a French citizen.
“Now, we don’t need to stretch it out anywhere else, we are just focusing on the National Election Committee.”
Tuesday’s event at the InterContinental Hotel was to mark the propagation of three new judicial laws, passed by the CPP-only National Assembly earlier this year. Mr. Hun Sen said he planned to ban judges from presiding over cases involving their relatives.
“In the meantime, judges will not be allowed to work on the same case with other judges who come from the same family,” he said. “This is an important point, and this point will also be applied to the…National Election Committee.”
Mr. Hun Sen then launched into an impromptu defense of the ban on family members of political party leaders sitting on the new NEC, which Mr. Rainsy also agreed to in the November 28 meeting.
“Previously, you talked about nepotism, so why not put such a prohibition on this body?” he asked rhetorically, suggesting the ban could even be “stretched” across the whole government.