Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday claimed that several candidates and local officials from the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party had transferred their allegiances to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in the past few days, with more defections to come.
“Yesterday there was a lawmaker candidate defection in Pursat province. Today there were defections in Kampot, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. . . and tomorrow, if there is no change, there would be defections in Kampong Cham and Kandal,” the premier said.
He added that the CNRP should not accuse the CPP of buying its candidates, because changing parties was within their political rights.
“They cannot live with all of you, so they ask to be with the Cambodian People’s Party,” he said.
Sith Ibrahim, president of the Khmer Islam Movement, announced yesterday that he and 45 followers had move from the CNRP to the CPP because of the CNRP’s alleged discrimination against Cham Muslims.
Ibrahim said he had declined to appear on the CNRP’s candidate list because the party had said it would list him below four other candidates in whichever province he ran in.
“They only would have let me stand number five in Siem Reap or Kampong Thom,” he said, referring to six-seat provinces where the CPP won five and four seats, respectively, in 2008.
“I told [the CNRP] any province was okay, provided that I would be elected,” he said. “But they did not listen; therefore, they discriminated against me.
“I did not join the CPP out of any interest, but whether Prime Minister Hun Sen offers me any position or not is his business,” added Ibrahim, who served as a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker during the National Assembly’s second mandate and as a Funcinpec party secretary of state at the Ministry of Cults and Religion during the third.
You Sos Fatieny, another member of the Khmer Islam Movement who had been a CNRP reserve candidate in Pursat province, also said she had switched allegiance to the CPP because of the CNRP’s discrimination against Chams.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that the party did not care about the defections and asserted that they were organised by the CPP.