The rift between former opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha is becoming more apparent as supporters of the latter slammed Mr Rainsy yesterday for planning to host a CNRP meeting in the United States on Sunday.
Yesterday, Mr Rainsy posted on Facebook and Twitter saying former opposition leaders in the United States will host a five-day meet from Sunday until February 3 in four states, including Massachusetts, California, Texas and Washington.
Mr Rainsy could not be reached for comment yesterday. However, a party statement said that the meeting is to understand recent political developments in Cambodia.
Former opposition lawmaker Mao Monyvann yesterday said he opposes the meeting and will not attend as it would be a betrayal.
“I am not interested in their invitation to attend the meeting because this is a betrayal of trust,” he said, noting that it all began when Mr Rainsy was named acting president by overseas members in December.
In December, Mr Rainsy was appointed as the acting president of the dissolved CNRP pending the conclusion of the treason case against Mr Sokha.
The move was highly condemned by pro-Sokha supporters who argued it was made to undermine Mr Sokha’s authority as president.
“They are starting to go against what we agreed on in Manila – so this is useless,” Mr Monyvann said, referring to the merger between the Sam Rainsy Party and Mr Sokha’s Human Rights Party to become Cambodia National Rescue Party in 2012 in the Philippines.
“They must do things based on consensus because if not, it will violate the party’s principles,” he added. “We will not attend nor support this conference.”
Mr Sokha was released on bail from Tboung Khmum province’s Trapeang Phlong prison on September 10 after a year behind bars without trial.
His bail conditions ban him from making trips abroad and confine him to a four-block radius surrounding his home in Tuol Kork district’s Boeng Kak II commune.
Pro-Rainsy supporters claim that Mr Rainsy was made acting president due to Mr Sokha’s inability to act on behalf of the party’s interests.
Political analyst Hang Vitou yesterday said he saw the split between the two factions coming.
“The merger made both parties united, but members had their differences,” Mr Vitou said. “They have always opposed each other because of differing points of view.”
“If this dispute continues, they will become weaker and weaker, while the rift will continue to grow wider,” he added. “They should instead be patient and stand together.”
Meanwhile, Mr Rainsy is also being attacked by Sam Serey, the exiled leader of the Khmer National Liberation Front who on Tuesday blasted Mr Rainsy for actively encouraging international sanctions against the government.
In a Monday speech, Prime Minister Hun Sen said “any sanctions imposed by the European Union amounts to killing the opposition party in Cambodia,” adding that he will not use the country’s independence and sovereignty as bargaining chips with foreign countries.
Mr Rainsy fired back on Facebook on Tuesday.
“I, Sam Rainsy, am the only one who has been actively encouraging international sanctions against your dictatorial regime,” Mr Rainsy added. “If you want to avoid those sanctions because you care about the well-being of the Cambodian people, you just have to reverse your repressive policies and start negotiations with the European Union in order to restore democracy in Cambodia.”
Mr Serey criticised Mr Rainsy for responding to Mr Hun Sen.
“Sam Rainsy is an opportunist; any attempt to sanction Cambodia is not because of opposition or Sam Rainsy himself,” he said. “It would be the EU who’d want to apply sanctions because they think human rights are being violated in Cambodia.”
“I do not support the opposition because they do not think about happiness of the people and what benefits them,” Mr Serey added. “Their acts caused losses for our nation and put us in a social crisis.”