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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - In lead-up to election, defection claims mount

In lead-up to election, defection claims mount

In lead-up to election, defection claims mount

In another apparent defection from the opposition, former Human Rights Party leader Horl Samnieng announced yesterday that he and more than 100 others were joining the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

At a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday, Samnieng said he and at least 116 Cambodian National

Rescue Party and Human Rights Party members were joining the CPP because they had lost confidence in the opposition parties.

CNRP legislators immediately derided the announcement, claiming the defection was a CPP ploy and noting that Samnieng never had been a member of the CNRP.

“He was executive committee president of the Human Rights Party from 2008 to 2009,” the current HRP executive committee president, Phuong Sokha, said. “But we learned that he was a CPP spy and so we removed him in 2009. I have been the president since 2010.”

Despite presenting himself at the press conference as a current CNRP leader in Kandal province, Samnieng later acknowledged to the Post that currently he was a member of neither the CNRP nor the HRP, claiming he had quit the HRP in 2012 because the party did not respect him.

“They never called me for meetings. I don’t know what mistake I made,” he said.

He added that he had decided to join the CPP not out of personal interest but because the CPP, led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, had a clear political platform.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Chhay Eang, however, said the defection clearly had been organised by the CPP.

“But this shows the Cambodian National Rescue Party is strong and they are weak if they pick dismissed people like this [to defect],” he said.

Responding to the claims that the CPP had organised the defection, Press and Quick Reaction Unit spokesman Tith Sothea said yesterday that the CPP had organised a ceremony to receive the newcomers but that the defectors had come on their own.

“There have been continuous defections,” he said. “We could not organise it – this is an unreasonable allegation.”

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