As expected, Cambodia’s parliament yesterday approved an amendment to the country’s constitution barring Cambodians with dual citizenship from holding high government office. Under the new rules, the country’s prime minister, and the presidents of the National Assembly, Senate, and Constitutional Council, must be sole Cambodian citizens.
The vote took place a mere three weeks after the idea was first conjured by Prime Minister Hun Sen, following a report in The Guardian claiming – incorrectly – that the Cambodian leader had purchased Cypriot citizenship. Despite The Guardian later correcting the claim, it was quickly taken up by exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who also referenced an earlier Reuters report claiming that several members of Hun Sen’s inner circle, including one of his nieces, had applied for or received Cypriot passports.
There was no doubt that the changes, which the government said were meant to show officials’ loyalty to their homeland and avoid “foreign interference,” would pass; Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) holds all 125 seats in the National Assembly, and the passage of the law through the Senate and its signature into law by King Norodom Sihamoni can be regarded as equally foregone conclusions.