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Cambodia splinter parties consider coalition to challenge the ruling party

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times  Thu, February 11, 2021

Founders of the opposition Cambodia National Love Party who were ex-CNRP members speak to media at a news conference last year. KT/Siv Channa

PHNOM PENH – With commune elections scheduled for next year, new “opposition” parties that have split from the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) are seeking a way to create a joint coalition to challenge the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said yesterday that the ruling party welcomed the move, saying his party remains strong to win the next elections.

“No matter this or that party, it is their right to join forces between parties as long as their party leaders agree. We do not oppose them because it is not against the law,” he said, adding that the CPP is waiting to see if the coalition comes to fruition.

Currently, there are four parties which broke out from the ex-CNRP. They are the Cambodia National Love Party (CNLP) headed by Chiv Kata, the Khmer Will Party (KWP) headed by Kong Monika, the Khmer Conservative Party (KCP) headed by Real Camerin and Ou Chanrath is seeking to register the newly created Cambodia Reform Party (CRP) to compete in the 2022 commune elections and the 2023 national election.

Former CNRP lawmaker Kang Kimhak, who is currently the vice president of the CNLP, told Khmer Times yesterday he supports any initiative to unite with other minor parties.

“The CNLP is based on the principle of unification, so if any party wants to unite, the CNLP welcomes it,” he said. “I urge the democrats, former leaders or activists of the ex-CNRP to continue to act. We cannot sleep waiting for the CNRP to return.”

Kimhak said he wants to “restore” democracy in the country and challenge the ruling CPP in the upcoming elections.

“We can only help our nation and our people if we carry out legitimate political action. We must join a larger force to compete to defeat the CPP,” he said.

The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November 2017 after its leader Kem Sokha was jailed on treason charges for allegedly colluding with the United States to overthrow the government through a colour revolution.

A total of 118 of its senior officials were also banned from politics for five years. As of now, a total of 14 of them have had their bans on political activity lifted.

Kimhak said the ex-CNRP leaders should not wait to reinstate the CNRP, saying it would be too late to join the election.

“We cannot wait without doing anything. Success will not come without action. We will not reach the goal without doing something,” he said. “I urge all of you to join the CNLP. Do not imagine that the CNRP will be reinstated,”

Monika, KWP president also, said he has preached and supported the unity of democrats many times in the past to build a better “democratic force” to compete with the ruling party. “Especially to build a democratic space at the sub-national level – communes – as well as the national level in the National Assembly.”

However, Monika is concerned that some “democrats” may have different views and goals and that is a barrier that is preventing them from coming together on a large scale. He urged them to join with KWP rather than create many minor parties.

Chanrath, who is also ex-CNRP lawmaker, told Khmer Times that the splitting among the ex-CNRP will benefit the ruling CPP. However, he said any attempt to gather a joint force like before is not an easy job to do.

He urged those party leaders to discuss how to find a way to solve the challenge.

However, Sokha, who is on trial for treason at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and is also banned from participating in politics for five years, through his lawyers has asked ex-CNRP officials who have created new parties to avoid linking his name to their parties.

Cambodia News Home

SOURCE: Khmer Times, Cambodia Thu, February 11, 2021

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