Love Party in Limbo After Interior Ministry Rejects Acting President

3 min read
Love Party treasurer Siev Visoth, standing, in a photo posted to his Facebook page in December 2020.

The future of the Cambodia National Love Party is in limbo after the Interior Ministry refused to accept its single remaining permanent committee member as acting president due to violations of party bylaws.

Top members of the Love Party have in recent months resigned and taken jobs at the Telecommunications Ministry, leaving the party without a president.

Siev Visoth said last month that he had therefore taken on the role of acting head and picked seven replacements for senior positions. He said at the time that he had met with the remainder of the permanent committee to make the decisions, but in fact only one committee member is still recognized by the ministry — himself.

Party bylaws state that in the absence of the president, standby president and vice president, a new acting president can only be appointed with a letter from the departing president.

Otherwise, a new president must be voted in by a party congress, but an extraordinary congress can only be called by a party president.

This appears to leave the Love Party unable to appoint new leadership at least until its next regular congress — held every five years. The party was formed in 2020, so this is likely years away.

But the Interior Ministry says even this could be impossible — and the party may be stuck forever — as the permanent committee doesn’t have its minimum membership of nine that is required to bring action items to congress.

The Interior Ministry’s decision of September 2 says Visoth has been rejected as acting president, and the Love Party cannot hold an extraordinary congress in September as requested. The document cites violations to articles 21, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 31 of the party’s bylaws.

Visoth said on Monday that he was working with a lawyer to try to find a way to keep the party viable. He wanted to talk directly with the ministry to better understand the technical aspects, he said.

“The remaining people have the ability to lead and organize additional leadership for the party,” he said. “Using the decisions of those who have already resigned to not allow this party to continue seems improper.”

However, Chhim Kan, director of the Interior Ministry’s political parties department, said the Love Party has no leadership, so it cannot do anything.

All party work needed to be adopted by quorum of the permanent committee, and the party did not have enough members in the committee to have a quorum as required by its bylaws.

“It is impossible. No appointments are possible [according to the way] they set it up themselves,” Kan said.

Violated Party Bylaws

Article 21 says a normal national congress is held regularly every five years, with the date and place set by the party’s permanent committee. Extraordinary congresses can be called by the party president with two-thirds vote from the permanent committee or board.

Article 25 says the permanent committee prepares the party’s plans, which are submitted to the board of directors for inspection then to a national congress for discussion and adoption.

Article 26 says the permanent committee has nine to 15 members, and also stipulates voting requirements for holding meetings.

Article 27 says the party’s president, standby president and vice president will be chosen for each five-year mandate by vote at a national congress.

Article 28 says that in the absence of the president and standby president, the vice president becomes acting president. But if the vice president is also absent, a letter from the departing president is needed to transfer the right to be acting president to the person next-in-line in the party hierarchy.

Article 31 says that if the permanent committee loses the ability to lead the party due to resignations or deaths, the permanent committee can choose a new candidate to submit to a vote at a national congress.

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