The jailed information chief of the former CNRP has urged the party’s two former presidents, Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy, to support a new generation of opposition in the wake of the controversy created by Mr Rainsy’s decision to set up the Cambodia National Rescue Movement.
Meach Sovannara, who is being held in Prey Sar prison, passed this message through Yim Sinorn, an opposition organiser in exile in South Korea. Mr Sinorn posted on Facebook yesterday that both Mr Rainsy and Mr Sokha should support a new generation.
He said the controversy over the creation of the CNRM should open the door to a new scenario that could break the political deadlock and prevent internal divisions.
Instead, he asked the two ex-leaders to support a new strategy, one boosting diplomacy from the international community and led by a new generation of opposition members. The support of the two, he argued, would be key to moving forward with hope in the tensed political arena.
“The legacy of the CNRP depends on Mr Rainsy and Mr Sokha’s collaboration. They should support the new generation,” he said.
Mr Sovannara said traditionally, Cambodian people support politicians whom they love or admire, and it is difficult to change their minds if that person is still willing to play a role in the political arena.
Pheng Heng, Mr Sokha’s lawyer, said after meeting him in prison on Friday that Mr Sokha would not join or support any new movement. Mr Rainsy earlier announced the creation of the CNRM “to provide a new structure that nobody could dissolve”.
Mr Rainsy told media that if Mr Sokha did not support the CNRM, it was for safety reasons because he was in the hands of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“CNRM is aiming to end Hun Sen’s dictatorial rule. It of course makes Hun Sen and the CPP unhappy. I am proud of Mr Sokha’s lawyer’s effort to release information and take care of him in prison,” Mr Rainsy said.
CNRM members include Mr Rainsy, his wife Saumura Tioulong, and two former CNRP deputy presidents, Eang Chhay Eang and Mu Sochua.
Prominent political analyst Lao Mong Hay said the CRNP had suffered from internal divisions since the merging of the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party.
Following the dissolution of the party in November, Mr Mong Hay said the opposition split further, with supporters of Mr Rainsy fleeing the country, while others, mostly supporters of Mr Sokha, chose to remain in the country despite the risks. “The creation of the CNRM further legitimised the demise of the CNRP, because Mr Sokha and his close colleagues are still hoping to use the defunct party’s structure and mechanisms,” Mr Mong Hay said.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said: “Even if Kem Sokha declines to join the CNRM, Kem Sokha is still Kem Sokha, playing the role of an opposition leader. Nothing is different. Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha are the same.”