PHNOM PENH: Cambodia’s ruling party on Monday voted to redistribute parliamentary seats held by the embattled main opposition if—as expected—it is dissolved by a court in coming weeks.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has hacked away at the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in recent months, chasing most of its 55 MPs into self-exile, as he flexes his muscles before an election in 2018 that could have tested his 32-year grip on power.
Earlier this month his government asked the top court to dissolve the CNRP, whose existence is hanging by a thread after its leader was arrested on treason charges.
The supreme court has not given a date for its ruling but it is expected this year.
On Monday, all 67 ruling party MPs, including Hun Sen, voted to amend the law to allow the election authority to redistribute seats or local posts held by a dissolved party to other parties represented in elections.
None of the CNRP’s MPs attended Monday’s vote.
Cheam Yeap, a lawmaker for the ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP), said the change was needed to take account of the “shifting political situation.”
Analysts predict the main beneficiary will be the royalist Funcinpec Party, headed by Prince Norodom Norodom Ranariddh, half-brother to the current king.
Ranariddh, who was ousted as Cambodia’s prime minister by a bloody coup in 1997, launched his latest political comeback in 2015 pledging an alliance with Hun Sen, the man who toppled him.