Cambodian opposition's parliament seats reallocated to smaller parties after ban

By Prak Chan Thul
FILE PHOTO - Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen waves to well wishers upon his arrival to attend the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and related meetings in Clark, Pampanga in northern Philippines November 11, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Parliamentary seats held by Cambodia's recently banned opposition party were reallocated on Thursday to smaller parties that had failed to win any seats in the last election, the National Election Committee said.

The Supreme Court outlawed the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Nov. 16 at the request of authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen's government in a move that prompted a U.S. cut in election funding and EU threats of action.

The CNRP was banned after its leader, Kem Sokha, was arrested for allegedly plotting treason with American help. He has rejected the accusations as a ploy to let Hun Sen keep his more than three-decade hold on power in next year's election.

The National Election Committee (NEC) said the 55 seats the CNRP won in the 2013 election were being shared among five other political parties. That did not include Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP), which already had a parliamentary majority with 68 seats.

"The list of the reallocation will be submitted to the National Assembly," the election body's deputy secretary general, Som Sorida, told Reuters.

The biggest winner is the royalist Funcinpec party of Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who was once Hun Sen's main rival but is now aligned with the prime minister.

Funcinpec will get 41 seats in parliament - a third of all the seats - despite winning less than 4 percent of the vote in 2013.

Som Sorida said the League for Democracy Party and Anti-Poverty Party had been awarded 6 and 5 seats respectively, but they had refused to take them up so they would now need to go to another party in the national assembly.

The Khmer National Party and Khmer Economic Development Party would get 2 seats and 1 seat respectively, Som Sorida said.

Officials from the CNRP made no immediate comment on the redistribution of the seats. The court has banned 118 CNRP members from politics for five years, but many of its leaders are abroad.


(Editing by Matthew Tostevin)

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