Eight former CNRP members will register a new political party on Thursday to challenge the ruling CPP in the commune election in 2022 and the national election in 2023.
The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court in 2017 after its leader Kem Sokha was charged and jailed for allegedly colluding with the United States to overthrow the government.
CNRP politicians and members were banned from politics as a result. Some of them had their bans lifted by King Norodom Sihamoni after they requested clemency from Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Khoeuy Sinoeun, a former CNRP member who was not banned from politics, yesterday said currently there are eight potential members, including Sim Sovany, Kang Kimhak and Chiv Kata, former CNRP members who had their bans lifted by the King.
“I will go submit the application to the Interior Ministry on January 2,” Mr Sinoeun said.
He added the potential members came up with three-party names, but have not yet decided what it is going to be. The names are Khmer Love Khmer Party, National Reform Party and Khmer Heart Party.
Mr Sinoeun noted Mr Kimhak was a CNRP lawmaker and Mr Kata was a high-ranking CNRP official.
He said the group will hold a press conference after the application is submitted.
He said the party will bring supporters of democracy in Cambodia together.
“We chose the names and what the party will represent on Saturday,” Mr Sineoun said, noting the group has also completed all required documents to form a political party. “We have completed all the documents and we have 4,000 thumbprints to support our application.”
Mr Kata said he hopes the party will garner the support from CNRP voters.
“We see that democrats who support the CNRP are divided – they are weak and they have no hope,” he said. “That is why we are creating this new democratic party. We do not care who criticises us. Our focus is to reunite democrats and the national interest.”
He said the party will be ready to compete against the CPP in the 2022 and 2023 elections.
Kong Korm, former CNRP adviser and honorary president of Khmer Will Party, congratulated the group for applying to become a political party.
“I want to say congratulations and welcome them for creating a new party,” Mr Korm said. “In the CNRP, we had differing views, so we won’t [merge].”
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan welcomes the group but said they must obey the law.
“They can do politics, but they need to respect the law,” Mr Eysan said. “They may have a new name, but they are still [former CNRP members].”
Kin Phea, director general at International Relation Institute of Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the group made a good decision in applying to become a new political party.
“Now they need time to build grassroots support if they really want to compete with the CPP,” Mr Phea said, adding the CPP has plenty of strength and influence.
“This group cannot gain all the popularity the CNRP had,” he said. “They need to gain popularity.”