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Former opposition member signals rift in leadership

Taing Vida / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Kong Korm speaks with Khmer Times. KT/Mai Vireak

Kong Korm, a former top adviser of the dissolved opposition party, yesterday said Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy are no longer political allies.

During a Cross Talk discussion with Khmer Times, Mr Korm, once the president of the Sam Rainsy Party, criticised Mr Rainsy for being arrogant when he accepted the role as acting president of the former opposition CNRP.

“The two leaders are not getting along and their supporters are not on the same page. I am the only witness and one of the founders of the CNRP,” Mr Korm said. “Without using the principles of consensus, the party cannot make decisions. So I can say that they are no longer allies.”

He said that Mr Rainsy desired to become party president and was willing to do anything to obtain the position, regardless of whether or not he had the support of Mr Sokha.

“Mr Sokha has never supported Mr Rainsy for what he is doing overseas,” Mr Korm said. “They no longer share a joint responsibility of the party.”

“Mr Rainsy is cheating [CNRP] supporters,” he added. “Mr Rainsy and Mr Sokha did not trust each other. They may even ruin each other someday.”

Supporters of Mr Rainsy on Tuesday issued a statement to support the decision that made Mr Rainsy acting party president.

They said in the statement that members of the former opposition party and activists chose Mr Rainsy due to his qualifications, background and popularity.

They also said in the statement that some senior members in Cambodia are living in fear, while others are in hiding.

Mr Korm responded to Mr Rainsy’s supporters by calling their statement a serious insult to those who are brave enough to be in the political arena, adding that he will request the government to return to politics and is preparing to become adviser to his son’s Khmer Will Party.

Mr Korm is one of 118 former opposition party members banned from politics by the Supreme Court.

The National Assembly last week passed an amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties that will nullify the ban.

In order to return, he would also need to file a request to Interior Minister Sar Kheng, or directly to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“The KWP hopes to become the main opposition party without being an extremist group,” Mr Korm said. “The party will stand against the ruling party in a constructive manner and while operating under the National Assembly’s procedures.”

Last week, Mr Rainsy said any former opposition party member who takes advantage of the amendment to Article 45 in order to return to politics is a traitor to the CNRP.

Ou Chanrath, a former opposition party member, yesterday said the rift between Mr Rainsy and Mr Sokha will eventually destroy the party if the disputes continue.

“If the leadership is still in dispute, I think former CNRP officials will break apart,” Mr Chanrath said. “Some top officials will take advantage of the opportunity to return to politics, but that will also create a problem. The international community would stop believing in the CNRP – I do not want this to happen.”

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