Some Repeated, Invalid Thumbprints Found Among 4,781 to Launch ‘Heart Party’

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Heart Party founder Seam Pluk and his lawyer Choung Choungy leave the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh on December 24, 2021. (Ouch Sony/VOD)

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a fledgling political party that was denied registration by the Interior Ministry for allegedly having a couple dozen individuals thumbprint a few times each for its application documents.

The Cambodian Nation Heart Party is one of a handful of CNRP-affiliated parties vying for the mantle of the primary opposition in upcoming elections, and its registration was rejected by the Interior Ministry on November 16 for use of some fraudulent thumbprints among 4,781 submitted.

Presiding judge Kong Srim said a National Police analysis of the thumbprints found the use of fake thumbprints and that this was done to boost the party’s member count.

Seam Pluk, the founder of the party, said he had followed the advice from the Interior Ministry when registering the party and had previously made changes to documents when asked by the ministry.

He was still willing to make changes to documents that contained errors but that the ministry had violated the law by not processing the party’s registration within the stipulated time defined in the Law on Political Parties.

“I think this is politically motivated because it is based on the law and facts. I am still not satisfied,” he told journalists outside court.

Teab Narin, an Interior Ministry official, said the ministry had asked the party to make corrections in July, August and September. But analysis of the thumbprints found that some were fraudulent and did not match existing records from their national ID cards, he said.

Nain added that there was intention to submit fraudulent thumbprints. Additionally, there were issues with the party’s regulations and standing committee.

Tith Bunna, a National Police official, said that of the 4,781 thumbprints, the Interior Ministry found 25 people had given 75 thumbprints and 287 were of bad quality.

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