By Ouch Sony and Ananth Baliga

The last time the Candlelight Party contested elections, 10 years ago in 2012, it was known as the Sam Rainsy Party.

Rainsy, a popular long-time opposition politician now living in exile in France to evade a slew of court convictions, had seen his party decline in commune chief seats from 28 in 2007 to 22 in 2012. About a month later, he joined with Kem Sokha’s Human Rights Party to form the Cambodia National Rescue Party — which surged in the national election a year later and the commune elections of 2017, and was outlawed later in 2017.

Amendments to the Political Parties Law passed that year banned individuals’ names or images in party names or logos; parties were also banned from consulting with individuals convicted of crimes. Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the time that the amendments targeted Rainsy, and the Sam Rainsy Party changed its name to the Candlelight Party. Recently, the party has become active again amid a void of popular opposition parties.

In a recent interview, Candlelight Party president Thach Setha said the party was still drafting its policies, which would be largely drawn from the CNRP’s. He also called on opposition supporters to unite behind his party rather than remain fractured.


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