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Politics

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy resigns

Hun Sen's offensive against opposition proving to be effective

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Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, and Sam Rainsy stand together in Phnom Penh on April 9, 2015.   © Reuters

PHNOM PENH -- Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy has resigned as president of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party, he wrote on Facebook.

The announcement, posted on Saturday, comes with the CNRP's No. 2 leader, Kem Sokha, aligning his positions with those of longtime Prime Minister Hun Sen. Rainsy's resignation is likely to further unsettle the opposition's integrity.

In a letter sent to the CNRP's steering committee and posted on his Facebook page, Rainsy said his resignation is due to "personal reasons."

Hun Sen and his ruling Cambodian People's Party have been seen intensifying their efforts to weaken the CNRP ahead of local elections later this year and national elections in 2018.

The National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, on Monday is scheduled to discuss CCP-proposed legislation that would ban anyone convicted of just about any crime from serving as president or deputy president of a political party.

Hun Sen, during a graduation ceremony earlier this month, called the current law on political parties "loose." He added, "Once a guy has committed a mistake, his party should be dissolved and his political rights stripped."

He was explaining the objectives of the legislation.

Earlier on Saturday, Rainsy had posted on Facebook that the bill is "tailor-made" to purge him and "aimed to institutionalize a one-party system." In the same post, Rainsy said, "Whatever my position in the party, I remain the symbol and embody the spirit of resistance to the autocratic and corrupt Hun Sen regime."

Rainsy was convicted of defaming the CPP in fall 2015; a court issued an arrest warrant immediately thereafter. Rainsy has been in self-exile in France ever since.

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