Opposition leader Sam Rainsy registered his name on the National Election Committee’s (NEC) voter list in Phnom Penh on Monday, opening the door for him to be instated on the CNRP’s list of lawmakers as early as next year.
Mr. Rainsy’s name was removed from the voter list in November 2012 on the grounds that he was a convicted criminal. After he received a Royal Pardon and returned to the country just days before the July 28 national election, both the NEC and National Assembly said it was too late for him to be put back onto voter rolls.
The decision made it impossible for Mr. Rainsy to stand as a candidate for the National Assembly, despite the fact he was the opposition’s president. CNRP chief whip Son Chhay said that by registering as a voter Monday, the process had begun for Mr. Rainsy to become a lawmaker.
“He didn’t have the opportunity to stand for the election, so we were looking for some way that we can bring him onto the candidate list in order for him to become a member of parliament,” Mr. Chhay said.
“Since he is registered in Phnom Penh, it would be likely that if this plan will go ahead, sometime in the future he will become a member of parliament in Phnom Penh,” Mr. Chhay said.
According to election laws, Mr. Rainsy could be eligible to take a seat in parliament if an elected CNRP lawmaker in any constituency, along with every reserve candidate in that constituency, were to resign their positions.
The 20-day registration period for updated voter lists began on October 1. Earlier this month, the NEC announced that there were 270,000 duplicated names on the list used in the election that need to be deleted from the new rolls.
After registering at a temporary voter registration point at a church in Chak Angre Loeu commune at 2:30 p.m. Monday, Mr. Rainsy reminded reporters of the more than 1 million voters that election monitors estimate were disenfranchised during the July election after having their names removed from, or wrongly entered on, voter lists.
“I hope that I will not have my name stolen or deleted like they canceled the names of more than 1.2 million people,” he said, referring to the NEC. “The NEC canceled more than 1.2 million people’s names because they suspected or knew who supported the opposition party.”
Mr. Rainsy said that he registered to fulfill his duties as a citizen, but would not comment on whether or not he planned to be on the CNRP’s revised list of lawmakers, which must be submitted by the end of the year.
(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)