Supporters of the former opposition party yesterday opened a two-week conference in the United States by issuing a five-point strategy to ensure the safe return of Sam Rainsy to Cambodia, a move highly criticised by CPP officials and the pro-Kem Sokha faction alike.
Eng Chhay Eang, who was named CNRP vice president, yesterday said the strategy includes how to welcome Sam Rainsy back in Cambodia, securing a budget for the return, expanding political relations, increasing anti-government information and aiming to make positive changes this year.
“Domestic and international supporters agreed to do these five things,” Mr Chhay Eang said. “First, we’ll create a working group to welcome Mr Rainsy home and then we will expand our overseas ties.”
“We make decisions together so we can express our stance on Mr Hun Sen’s holding of CNRP as his political hostage with the EU,” he added. “The CNRP supports the measures taken by the EU to encourage the restoration of democracy in Cambodia.”
The supporters will meet for a total of five days until February 3 in four states, including Massachusetts, California, Texas and Washington to discuss recent political developments in Cambodia.
Yesterday’s meeting was led by Mr Rainsy himself in Lowell, Massachusetts.
A total of fifteen permanent committee members, with seven present, declared to officially recognised the conference.
“Our permanent committee had a historic meeting for the first time since the illegal dissolution of the CNRP by the government,” former opposition lawmaker Ou Chanrith said during the meet. “We decided to support the decision made in Atlanta in December to declare Sam Rainsy as acting president.”
Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that any sanction imposed by the EU would go against Cambodia and that it would destroy what is left of the CNRP in the country.
“If you dare then do so, but you need to pay it back. You wait and see whether Hun Sen’s administration will take measures against those bad people,” Mr Hun Sen said. “You don’t have the right to talk to me any more. So those people who were convicted will serve their sentences and the person [Kem Sokha] who should be freed will not be released.”
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan yesterday said the CNRP now has no political right, calling the meetings in the US “useless”.
“I heard the so-called opposition permanent committee is holding a meeting to do something,” Mr Eysan said, noting that Mr Rainsy should not return to Cambodia. “It is useless because the opposition party is already dead – any activity done under their name is illegal and against the verdict of the Supreme Court – which is final.”
The conference was also slammed by overseas supporters of Mr Sokha who issued their own statement calling Mr Rainsy’s appointment as acting president illegitimate.
It said that any decisions made without the prior approval of Mr Sokha is “not a decision made by the CNRP”.
“We wish to clarify again that Mr Rainsy is not party president or acting president because he was not appointed by President Kem Sokha,” the statement said. “Instead, the fake party acting president was born out of a coup that opposed the spirit and principles of the CNRP.”