Tboung Khmum province – Veteran opposition member of the now-dissolved CNRP Pheang Sok Chan, who is now chief of the provincial working group for the Khmer Will Party, said yesterday his former supporters would vote for the KWP despite him not agreeing with his former leader’s calls to boycott the election.
Mr Sok Chan, 56, has followed former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy since 1995. He worked for the CNRP before it was dissolved and then joined the Khmer Will Party.
However, as he campaigned here yesterday, Mr Sok Chan said he did not agree with calls being made for voters to boycott the election, a tactic being employed by Mr Rainsy who has repeatedly called for voters to abstain in protest to the CNRP’s inability to participate.
“I am not satisfied with the calls for a boycott because doing so provokes disunity in the Kingdom,” he said.
“We founded the Khmer Will Party and that does not mean that we have betrayed the will of former opposition supporters or are going against CNRP members outside the country,” he added. “It does not mean we see other Khmers as our enemy; we aim to develop the country with the need for reconciliation.”
As Mr Sok Chan spent the sixth day of the election campaign in Tboung Khmum province spreading the KWP’s political messages to attract voters, he noted that people have been receptive of the party which was formed by him and other former opposition members.
“When I started the election campaign, villagers have seemed interested,” he said. “For example, when I met villagers and asked to put up a party banner they agreed.”
“People understand there is only the Khmer Will Party to represent the opposition now as we are blooded as members of the CNRP,” he added.
The KWP was formed by Kong Monika, the son of a former high-ranking CNRP official, in the wake of the opposition’s dissolution by the Supreme Court in November.
“I followed Mr Rainsy since 1995 and every single step of the way there were people lobbying me to defect to another party,” Mr Sok Chan said. “But I still remain to advocate for the interests of everyone.”
Mr Sok Chan, a lawmaker candidate in Tboung Khmum, said hopes to win 50 percent of the vote against the ruling CPP.
“People know my background in Tboung Khmum province,” he said. “My political message is that I do not treat former members of the CNRP or other people as our enemy. We are an accessory to the will of people instead of the CNRP.”
“My former activists and members, as well as other people, seem to like me, but they have not shown it in public,” he noted.
There are 125 National Assembly seats up for grabs on July 29, including eight in Tboung Khmum province.
Meng Kry, 41, a grocery vendor in O’Raing Euv district, said newly-founded political parties, including the KWP, could not compete with the CPP.
“I have never heard of the Khmer Will Party,” Mr Kry said. “The only party which could challenge the CPP was the CNPR but it was dissolved. ” Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath said the KWP could not replace the CNRP or challenge the CPP.
“I do not see any support for them from the public and they cannot gain any seats because people do not trust them,” he said. “The Khmer Will Party does not represent the will of the people.”