Khmer National Liberation Front member Thuy Vy today resigned from his position as spokesman of the movement after an attempt to register as a political party failed due to the criminal status of its president.
“I, Thuy Vy, wish to resign from my current position because I lacked the ability to fulfil my duty for the group and the Cambodian people,” Mr Vy said in a letter, noting that he failed to have a Royal Pardon granted for exiled KNLF president Sam Serey.
He urged members of the KNLF to create a temporary committee to elect a new president in to replace Mr Serey.
“The court did not permit president Sam Serey to register the Khmer National Liberation Party,” Mr Vy said.
Mr Vy was released from prison in November following an 18-month stint for incitement to commit felony.
He was jailed after attempting to arrange a press conference with NGOs in Phnom Penh to call on the government to pardon Mr Serey.
Contacted by phone yesterday, Mr Vy said he remains a KNLF supporter.
“Even after resigning from the KNLF, I am still a supporter,” he said.
Mr Serey yesterday said he received Mr Vy’s letter.
“It was his personal decision,” he said. “I was surprised when I read the letter; I’m disappointed by the decision, but it was his right as an individual.”
Mr Serey, who is currently in exile in Denmark, is accused by authorities of leading an armed movement against the government.
He was sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison in 2014 for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government. In 2016, he formed a government in exile, and assigned Mr Vy as Agriculture Minister and spokesman in 2018.
Last year, Mr Serey said he plans to “halt activities” and return to Cambodia if certain conditions are met, including granting him a pardon and releasing of former opposition leader Kem Sokha.
But KNLF is listed by the government as a terrorist organisation and many of its members were arrested last year. The group has been attempting to rebrand itself as a political party.
Following news that the KNLF wanted to form a political party, government spokesman Phay Siphan said it was “the right thing to do” compared to forming a government in exile.
Interior Ministry spokesman General Khieu Sopheak earlier said the government would welcome the creation of a party if members follow the Law on Political Parties.
However, Mr Serey’s prison sentence became an obstacle for the registration of the party.