Houn Panary was elected to lead the Beehive Social Democratic Party yesterday at a party congress, while the Khmer National United Party selected Sing Kiri as its new leader in light of former President Nhek Bun Chhay’s arrest last month.
Panary laid out a set of policy priorities including poverty reduction, a two-term limit for the prime minister, conflict of interest rules for lawmakers owning businesses, a review of border treaties, and harsher prosecution of environmental destruction and narcotics trafficking. She also said that, if elected prime minister, she would request the King pardon “political prisoners and the victims of [free] expression”.
Ex-Beehive chief Mam Sonando said that disappointing election results – along with revisions to the Law on Political Parties forbidding parties from associating with a convicted criminal – motivated his departure. Sonando has previously faced criminal charges, including a count of insurrection, in a case involving a rural land dispute that is widely considered politically motivated.
“I will ask the Ministry of Interior what I can do to help the party. I am convinced that the law . . . was created not for me, but for Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy,” Sonando said, referring to the founders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, both of whom have either been convicted or are facing charges in politically tinged cases.
Meanwhile, the KNUP’s Kiri said he will continue to build on Bun Chhay’s achievements.
“I have some ideas to add . . . but I will not change all the old policy.”