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CNRP leaders Kem Sokha (centre left) and Sam Rainsy (centre right) meet with party officials in November to discuss action plans for the political climate in Cambodia. Photo supplied
CNRP leaders Kem Sokha (centre left) and Sam Rainsy (centre right) meet with party officials in November to discuss action plans for the political climate in Cambodia. Photo supplied

CNRP prepping party meeting in Philippines

With self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy facing yet another defamation suit and accusations of infidelity continuing to dog deputy opposition president Kem Sokha, senior Cambodia National Rescue Party officials will meet in Manila today in preparation for their biennial party congress later this month.

The meeting will focus on the current political climate and the CNRP’s strategy from the 2017 commune elections and the national elections the following year, officials said yesterday, and will be led by Rainsy – who has remained abroad since last year after being belatedly slapped with a prison sentence over a years-old defamation case, only to be sued twice more by different ruling party officials, most recently last week over comments made on his Facebook page.

Rainsy on trial: view an interactive timeline of the opposition leader's ongoing legal battles

“Importantly, we will be talking about the political situation from October 2015 until the current time,” CNRP spokesman Yem Ponhearith said yesterday. “The second important discussion point is about the political platform and political strategy needed as we move towards elections to bring a positive change.”

Ponhearith said allegations of an affair that have hounded Sokha over the past few weeks were “not on the agenda” as the party focuses on its political strategy and prepares for its congress on March 26.

Nearly two weeks ago, recordings purported to be of Sokha and a mistress began to appear online, and over the weekend the government’s anti-terror police interrogated a woman they believe to be “Mon Srey”, the alleged mistress on the audio files.

She has denied that it is her voice on the recordings, while the CNRP have refused to be drawn into the purported scandal, saying they have more pressing political matters to address.

A group of university students who have been petitioning Sokha to respond to the allegations held a press conference over the weekend, again calling for the deputy opposition leader to respond to the accusations.

Despite the Manila meeting being held amid the controversy, Ou Virak, the founder of political think tank the Future Forum, said yesterday that the CNRP would likely hold their stance and focus on its political priorities during the congress.

“The party will agree to ignore and not respond to those allegations,” he said.

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