Cambodia opposition in shock after leader’s resignation

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Cambodia’s opposition party met on February 12 after the surprise resignation of its founder and leader Sam Rainsy, with the movement seemingly paralysed ahead of the 2018 general election. Rainsy’s move is casting doubt over the prospects of a party that poses the only genuine challenge to Cambodian Prime MInister Hun Sen’s 32-year rule.

Rainsy, who has been at the forefront of the country’s opposition scene for two decades, announced his resignation from the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) “for the sake of the party” in a letter posted on social media on February 11.

His departure came after Hun Sen proposed banning anyone convicted of a crime from leading a political party.

CNRP executive members accepted the resignation and named his deputy, Kem Sokha, acting chief until a party congress can be held.

Rainsy, who has been living in self-imposed exile since 2015 to avoid convictions and lawsuits he says are politically motivated, did not elaborate further on the reasons for his resignation. Particularly, he avoids a two-year prison sentence for defamation.

Observers say it was likely an attempt to avoid the CNRP’s dissolution if Rainsy stayed on under the new legislation.

The CNRP made strong gains in the disputed 2013 elections in Cambodia, taking 55 seats while Hun Sen’s party took 68.

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Cambodia's opposition party met on February 12 after the surprise resignation of its founder and leader Sam Rainsy, with the movement seemingly paralysed ahead of the 2018 general election. Rainsy's move is casting doubt over the prospects of a party that poses the only genuine challenge to Cambodian Prime MInister Hun Sen's 32-year rule. Rainsy, who has been at the forefront of the country's opposition scene for two decades, announced his resignation from the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) "for the sake of the party" in a letter posted on social media on February 11. His departure came after Hun...

Reading Time: 1 minute

Cambodia’s opposition party met on February 12 after the surprise resignation of its founder and leader Sam Rainsy, with the movement seemingly paralysed ahead of the 2018 general election. Rainsy’s move is casting doubt over the prospects of a party that poses the only genuine challenge to Cambodian Prime MInister Hun Sen’s 32-year rule.

Rainsy, who has been at the forefront of the country’s opposition scene for two decades, announced his resignation from the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) “for the sake of the party” in a letter posted on social media on February 11.

His departure came after Hun Sen proposed banning anyone convicted of a crime from leading a political party.

CNRP executive members accepted the resignation and named his deputy, Kem Sokha, acting chief until a party congress can be held.

Rainsy, who has been living in self-imposed exile since 2015 to avoid convictions and lawsuits he says are politically motivated, did not elaborate further on the reasons for his resignation. Particularly, he avoids a two-year prison sentence for defamation.

Observers say it was likely an attempt to avoid the CNRP’s dissolution if Rainsy stayed on under the new legislation.

The CNRP made strong gains in the disputed 2013 elections in Cambodia, taking 55 seats while Hun Sen’s party took 68.

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