The Grassroots Democracy Party has decided not to join the Supreme Consultative Council, noting that it wants to challenge the government from an independent position.
Prime Minister Hun Sen initiated the council to gather input from all political parties that contested July’s national poll after his ruling CPP swept all 125 seats in the National Assembly.
The council, composed of two representatives of each political party, is tasked with producing reports that bring about positive national development and providing feedback on draft laws.
GDP committee chief Yang Saing Koma said yesterday that the party held a meeting on Sunday, when it reached its final decision not to join the council.
“If we join the Supreme Consultative Council, we will become a part of the government,” he said. “We have many choices. We will not join the council, but we are happy to hold discussions with the government and the National Assembly.”
“It is not necessary to have the Supreme Consultative Council’s position and power, as we can do the work without taking part,” he added. “Our party wants to be an independent party and equitably compete.”
The GDP made the decision to not take part in the council after a two-month political hiatus following the national election. It had initially deferred joining until after the new government was formed.
Mr Saing Koma noted that the GDP has existing mechanisms in place to discuss political issues with the government.
“Our party will continue future political activities in order to take part in the next commune and national elections,” he added. “We are open to receiving ideas and criticism from everyone.”
The GDP is one of three parties that did not join the council, with the others being the League for Democracy Party and Khmer Anti-Poverty Party.
The other 16 parties that have seats at the council said not having GDP at the table does not concern them.
Mam Sonando, Beehive Social Democracy Party president, said the GDP was free to make its own decision.
“I take part in the council because I want to develop Cambodia with the ruling party,” Mr Sonando said. “I don’t think about political problems.”
“The ruling party did not buy or threaten us to join them – to join or not to join, it was our decision,” Mr Sonando added.
Nop Sothearith, a Funcinpec spokesman, said the council provides parties a platform to provide feedback to the government.
“Funcinpec joined because we want to develop the country and create political stability,” Mr Sothearith said. “Parties can discuss ideas and provide input to the government.”
Kov Kea, a League for Democracy Party spokesman, could not be reached for comment yesterday, while Sin Vannarith, Khmer Anti-Poverty Party director-general, declined to comment.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan also declined to comment.
“Please question the party that decided not to join – I have no comment,” Mr Eysan said.
In August, Mr Hun Sen warned the GDP that he was reconsidering its participation in the council after the party failed to join the forum’s first meeting before the new government was formed and aired concerns to the media.
“You said you needed more time to consider, and now it is I that need time to consider your invitation,” Mr Hun Sen said. “I welcomed you, but you did not need to use the media to respond to an official invite from the Prime Minister.”