Pung Chhiv Kek, the president of rights group Licadho who on Tuesday turned down her nomination to the National Election Committee (NEC), said Wednesday that the ban on dual nationals sitting on the body made it difficult for her to accept the role.
In an email, Ms. Chhiv Kek, who holds Cambodian, Canadian and French nationality, reiterated that the NEC’s lack of independence was the “main reason” she declined but that the controversial ban also influenced her decision.
“Regarding the question of dual nationality, after having been invited to the house [the NEC] to clean the house, after a while the door has been shut in my face,” she said.
“Above all, dismissing dual nationality is a discriminatory measure…which deprives Cambodia from essential human resources while the country is still far from fully recovering from the human disasters of civil war, Khmer Rouge massacres and a long-lasting foreign occupation.”
Ms. Chhiv Kek helped arrange the talks that ended the civil war in the 1990s and said her foreign nationality was key to that.
“I cannot forget that if I was able to help my country in the past…it was thanks to my French nationality,” she said.