Dual Citizens May Be Banned From Prime Minister Role

Dual Citizens May Be Banned From Prime Minister Role
BY  AND  | MARCH 11, 2014

Emerging from a meeting on electoral reform Monday, senior ruling party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said that the government is considering modifying Cambodia’s nationality law to ban those with dual citizenship from running for the office of prime minister.

Mr. Yeap, who represented the CPP at the second meeting of the new joint-party Electoral Reform Committee on Monday, explained that the change, which he said would help prevent treason, would not be introduced immediately but was one of the government’s long-term plans.

“We want the prime minister to have only a single nationality, and not two nationalities,” Mr. Yeap told reporters after the meeting.

“For example, if someone has two nationalities—one French and one Khmer—when the Khmer have a dispute with the French, which side will that prime minister take?” Mr. Yeap asked.

“This will take a long time and will be in the nationality law.”

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who lived in Paris until 1993 after his family was exiled under then-Prince Sihanouk in 1965, holds dual French and Cambodian citizenship. The CNRP president has twice fled to France to avoid criminal convictions—most recently between 2009 and 2013—in a case brought against him by the government.

Mr. Rainsy said by telephone Monday that he would be prepared to renounce his French citizenship if the ruling CPP introduced such a measure.

“Of course I would give up my French citizenship,” he said. “I would give up my life for this country, this is only a minor problem.”

Mr. Rainsy said he no longer needed France as a “safe place” to flee what he termed intimidation and violence from the ruling CPP.

“This has been a strength,” Mr. Rainsy said. “But now my strength is the support of the Cambodian people. With this strength, and with the overwhelming and growing support of the Cambodian people, I am invincible. I do not need anything else.”

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Dual Citizenship Cambodia


Dual Citizenship Cambodia

Cambodia has permitted dual citizenship since 1996.

How can you acquire Cambodian citizenship?


Those falling into the following categories acquire Khmer citizenship by birth, regardless of the place of birth:

  • children born to at least one Khmer parent;
  • illegitimate children born to and recognized by at least one Khmer parent;
  • children not recognized by the parents, but the court has passed a judgment stating that the child was born from at least one Khmer parent.

Those born in the Kingdom of Cambodia to foreign parents who were born and living legally in the Kingdom of Cambodia or to unknown parents also acquire Khmer citizenship at birth.


Those born to at least one Khmer parent, regardless of the place of birth, are entitled to citizenship.


Those meeting the following requirements may apply for naturalization:

  • obtain certification of good behavior and moral conduct by the chief of the commune or quarter of one’s residence;
  • obtain certification of past criminal record stating the person has never been convicted of any criminal offense;
  • at least 7 years of residence with a residence card in the Kingdom of Cambodia (reduced to 3 years for foreigners born in the country) (no residence requirement for those investing at least 1,250,000,000 Riels in the country or donating 1,000,000,000 Riels or more to the national budget, or for those offering any special merit or achievement for the country’s interest);
  • currently residing in the Kingdom of Cambodia when applying for naturalization;
  • ability to speak and write Khmer and some knowledge of Khmer history, with proof that the person can live in harmony in Khmer society, custom and tradition;
  • mental and physical aptitude which will not cause danger or burden to the nation.


Those married to a Khmer spouse may apply for citizenship after 3 years of living together, after registration of a marriage certificate. Khmer citizens do not lose their Khmer citizenship because of their marriage with foreigners.

 Further information, please refer to: Dual Citizenship Webportal

Reform Efforts Should Include Vote for Cambodians Abroad

Reform Efforts Should Include Vote for Cambodians Abroad
(Reviewed by Colin Meyn, Cambodia Daily, Published on 10 March 2014)

Now that the ruling CPP and opposition CNRP have begun discussions on post-election Cambodia Daily 10 March 2014reforms, (“Slow Start for Joint Electoral Reform Commission,” March 4) it must be noted that the Cambodian diaspora has been pivotal to the development of modern Cambodia and, therefore, should be given a role in helping to bring about crucial change in the country. In countries such as India and the Philippines, nationals living abroad make huge contributions to the economy through remittances. For countries such as Israel and Armenia, their diaspora communities are catalysts for political change.

In Cambodia, expatriate Khmers have played an important role in revitalizing the nation. Cambodia’s diaspora was central in bringing about the Paris Peace Agreement, and today’s democratic movement is supported by donations and participation from Cambodians overseas. The powerful ruling Cambodian People’s Party often takes a confrontational position toward Khmers living overseas, which is a mistake, as so many of us want to invest in the country’s economy and people.

Cambodia’s government continues to rely heavily on foreign aid, it could benefit greatly by Cambodia Daily 10 March 2014 1also engaging Cambodians living abroad as it seeks to become a globally competitive country. As part of its discussion over electoral reform, the CPP and CNRP should include on the agenda the right of Cambodians living around the world to vote in future national elections.

Sophoan Seng
Team Leader
Commission for Election Right of Oversea Cambodians (CEROC)
University of Hawaii, Honolulu

No Votes for Almost 600,000 Cambodians Working Abroad

No Votes for Almost 600,000 Cambodians Working Abroad
BY  AND  | JULY 3, 2013


On July 28, an estimated 9.6 million registered voters are expected to go to the polls in Cambodia. But, with no mechanism in place for absentee voting, almost 600,000 migrant workers currently estimated to live abroad are unlikely to cast their vote, according to election monitors and NGOs that work with migrants.

Those not voting include adult Cambodians, both illegal and legal, who are working in Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea, said Joel Preston, a consultant for the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), a legal aid NGO that advocates for migrant rights.

“If they are Khmer citizens, they all have the right to vote,” Mr. Preston said. “The lack of absentee voting, which exists in Thailand and the Philippines, threatens the freedom and fairness of the upcoming election,” he said.

While the Ministry of Labor on Tuesday declined to provide figures for the number of Cambodians working abroad, CLEC estimates that there are more than 500,000 legal and undocumented Cambodians working in Thailand, more than 50,000 in Malaysia and more than 30,000 in South Korea.

“The single most important factor in labor migration is wage. Hundreds of thousands of marginalized Cambodians have left this country for that reason alone,” Mr. Preston said.

Committee for Free and Fair Elections executive director Koul Panha said that Cambodians working abroad contribute greatly to the national economy through remittance, yet they do not have the right to vote.

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Slow Start for Joint Electoral Reform Commission

Slow Start for Joint Electoral Reform Commission
BY  AND  | MARCH 4, 2014

The ruling CPP agreed in principle to two of seven proposals put forth by the opposition CNRP on Monday during the first meeting of a joint electoral reform commission.

Emerging from a four-and-a-half hour meeting at the Senate, leaders of the CPP and CNRP working groups told reporters that they had agreed on the need to reform voter registration and create a new law on political financing.

A joint statement released following the meeting says the parties agreed to “organize voter registration and voter lists to guarantee and to protect people’s right to vote” and “organize the creation of a law on financing of political parties.”

The six-member delegations from each party agreed to continue electoral reform talks next Monday.

CNRP chief whip Son Chhay, who headed the opposition delegation, said the CPP declined to discuss five additional reform proposals until they had a chance to speak with senior CPP leadership.

Those points included reforming the composition of the National Election Committee and its local bodies, giving parties equal access to broadcast media, the creation of an independent body to settle electoral disputes, and measures to ensure the political independence of the military and civil service.

“They said [these points] have not been discussed among their leaders, so they asked to look into this for next time around,” Mr. Chhay said, adding that specifics of the reforms would be dealt with in later stages of the reform process.

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