Prohibition of dual citizenship for senior officials en route to King

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Constitutional Council President Im Chhun Lim in an online meeting on September 28. Secretariat of the Constitutional Council

The Constitutional Council of Cambodia (CCC) will request a consultation with King Norodom Sihamoni on amendments to several articles of the Constitution that would require that the highest national leadership positions in the Kingdom be occupied by persons only in possession of Cambodian citizenship.

This followed a vote approving the changes by the Council of Ministers on October 8.

“The Constitutional Council, chaired by President Im Chhun Lim, will hold a plenary session [on October 11] review and prepare a presentation of the key concepts of the bill to His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni. . . The CCC General Secretariat said in a press release on October 9th.

The Council of Ministers adopted the draft amendments to Articles 19, 82, 106, 119 and 137 of the Constitution and to Articles 3 and 4 of the Additional Constitutional Law aimed at ensuring the regular functioning of national institutions.

The amended articles stipulate that the posts of Prime Minister and Presidents of the National Assembly, the Senate and the Constitutional Council must all be occupied by persons who have Cambodian nationality without having the dual nationality permitted in these roles.

The impetus behind these changes was apparently fueled by “false” media reports claiming that Prime Minister Hun Sen had acquired a Cypriot passport, an allegation he vigorously denied and which was later withdrawn by the British newspaper. Guardian.

The Guardian’s amended report now indicates that anonymous members of Hun Sen’s “inner circle” were in possession of such passports rather than the prime minister himself.

The information in their report was allegedly gleaned from the huge Pandora Papers data dump leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The organization works with more than 150 media outlets to produce data content reports that largely focus on the use of offshore trusts by some of the world’s richest people as a way to hide their financial activities.

The now retracted allegation was immediately echoed by former opposition leader Sam Rainsy on his social media accounts. Rainsy further alleged that Hun Sen had in fact purchased the passport for an unknown amount.

At the Council of Ministers meeting on October 8, the prime minister said the drafting of the amendment was done swiftly in an urgent response to these false reports and was aimed at maintaining public confidence in the government.

He noted that the single citizenship requirement would not be extended to the Undersecretary of State for Ministries as the results would be too exclusive and would affect a number of current government officials who were forced to flee overseas during the war and the genocidal period of the Khmer Rouge and later. came back to contribute to national development.

“We leave open the possibility for people with dual nationality to become ministers, ministers, vice-presidents of the National Assembly and the Senate while limiting them only to eligibility for four national leadership positions,” he said. he declares.

Hun Sen suggested that Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Prak Sokhonn and Justice Minister Koeut Rith work with their Cypriot counterparts to determine the source of the allegation as it damaged the reputation of Cambodian and Cypriot leaders. .

“We asked for state-to-state cooperation [with Cyprus]. We cannot just dismiss this case as frivolous or treat it as unimportant as it concerns the slander of one of Cambodia’s national leaders and tarnishes the image of the Cypriot government, so we need to look into it, ”Hun said. Sen.

He said a written note had already been sent to the EU Ambassador in Phnom Penh and the UK Ambassador also because the Guardian is based in the UK. Cambodian Ambassador to China Khek Cai Mealy Sysoda also plans to discuss the matter with the Cypriot envoy there.

CCC general secretary Taing Ratana could not be reached for comment on the matter.

However, according to Hun Sen, the CCC will consider whether the amendments are contrary to existing principles enshrined in Cambodian laws, especially with regard to the constitutional monarchy and the requirement that Cambodia be a liberal multiparty democracy.

The CCC will submit its opinions to the King, who will then confirm the proposed changes and forward them to the National Assembly for a full vote.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the government, National Assembly, Senate and CCC are the main national institutions responsible for making decisions considered to be life and death matters for the nation, such that the guarantee of national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said.

“[The amendment] aims to protect the national interests and the Cambodian people from interference in the internal affairs of the nation by foreign powers and to prevent outside influences from shaping the country’s domestic and foreign policies, ”Siphan said.

The new draft article 119 provides that at the request of the president – and with the approval of the two vice-presidents of the National Assembly – the King appoints the Prime Minister from among the parliamentarians of the party with the most seats in the National Assembly. Assembly to form the government.

Article 119 states that the post of Prime Minister must be occupied by a parliamentarian from the ruling party with the most seats in the National Assembly and must be a Cambodian citizen by birth currently in exclusive possession of Cambodian citizenship.

Likewise, the newly drafted Article 82 says the same thing about the President of the National Assembly while Article 106 says so about the President of the Senate.


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