Technicality Delays Kem Sokha’s Political Plans

The newly formed and controversially named Human Rights Par­ty will have to postpone its first party con­gress because it has not yet been registered with the In­ter­i­or Ministry, party leader Kem So­kha said Thurs­day.

Kem Sokha, who recently left his position as president of the Cam­bodian Center for Human Rights to found his own political party, said that he intended to hold the congress on July 7 at Olym­pic Stadium in Phnom Penh.

His request to rent out the facility was denied, he said, because the party was not yet fully register­ed with the Interior Ministry.

For a party to register with the min­istry they must submit the thumbprints of at least 4,000 supporters with their paperwork. Kem Sokha said that the ministry has re­jected around 2,000 of the thumb­prints his party handed in.

“We are sad to see the congress is delayed,” he said, adding that another two thousand thumb­prints have been sent to the mini­stry to correct the problem.

Lay Voharith, director of the In­terior Ministry’s Political Affairs Department, confirmed that the ministry had rejected around 2,000 of the Human Rights party’s thumb­prints because there was no mention of the location where the prints were collected.

His department is currently re­viewing the new thumbprints sent in by the party, Lay Voharith said.

“We are checking the thumb­prints, everything is good so far,” he said, adding that the review would be completed soon.

Lay Voharith said that the issue was strictly a technical one, add­ing that the ministry has no desire to keep Kem Sokha’s party from forming. “It is against the law to prevent a party,” he said. “If we have 4,000 thumbprints, we will allow the party to work.”

Mar Sophal, monitoring coordinator for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that it was un­likely that the ruling CPP would try to block the formation of the Human Rights Party be­cause the fledgling party will only help split the opposition vote.


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