Popular radio host Mam Sonando has announced his return to politics, reviving the Beehive Social Democratic Party that he founded in a bid to contest the upcoming national election in July.
Mr Sonando declared his return to politics just seven months after his resignation as president of the party following poor performance during June’s commune elections.
Mr Sonando declined to comment yesterday, but in an earlier interview with Fresh News he said that he decided to rejoin politics after realising that leaders of the dissolved CNRP had failed to unite the country and move it forward.
“I have lost hope for the former opposition leaders,” he said, referring to exiled former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy and jailed leader Kem Sokha, who faces treason charges.
“Now, I want to be the representative who can bring the country toward democracy in replacement of those former leaders,” he said. “I will practice politics unlike the CNRP, who just incited and caused harm to national security.”
Mr Sonando created the BSDP in 1997, but dissolved it a year later after it failed to win any seats. He revived the party in 2015.
After the 2013 national election, Mr Sonando participated in mass protests calling for a higher minimum wage for garment workers and for Prime Minister Hun Sen to stand down and allow a re-election to take place because the CNRP refused to accept the ballot results as legitimate.
BSDP spokesman Lay Narin said that the reason Mr Sonando resigned as president of the party was because amendments to the Law on Political Parties stipulated that anyone convicted of crimes could not lead parties.
Mr Sonando has been jailed three times, most recently in 2012 for a widely debunked “secessionist” plot that saw him sentenced to 20 years in prison. The charge was later converted to a lesser offence and he was freed after eight months.
Mr Narin said Mr Sonando has consulted with lawyers who have assured him that he can return to politics and lead the BSDP because his previous criminal sentences have been completed.
“After the CNRP was dissolved, the people who support him want him to again lead the Beehive Social Democratic Party,” Mr Narin said. “All members of the party support him to be president.”
Mr Narin said the party would hold an extraordinary congress on March 11 at its headquarters in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district to re-elect Mr Sonando as president.
“Mam Sonando will do politics again. It will be different from the CNRP and we still criticise the government but we just criticise for reform,” he said. “It is not like the CNRP that criticised the government all the time.”