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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mam Sonando starts advocacy NGO

Mam Sonando starts advocacy NGO

POLITICAL activist Mam Sonando has launched a new advocacy organisation that he says will aim to enfranchise rural voters and support a united opposition.

The organisation, called the Democratic Association, is expected to begin its work by the end of this year, Mam Sonando said yesterday. The group will register voters and provide them with government identification documents.

“I founded this association because I want to help people who have been living without legal documents and therefore have been denied the right to vote,” Mam Sonando said.

A veteran of opposition politics, Mam Sonando owns the Beehive FM radio station. He was arrested in 2003 in connection with anti-Thai riots in Phnom Penh, and again in 2005 for allegedly accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen of selling land to Vietnam; both arrests were roundly criticised by local rights groups.

Mam Sonando said the DA currently has 11 staff members and has registered roughly 1,600 voters since July. It has no external funding, though Mam Sonando said the group charges 2,000 riels (US$0.47) per person to secure legal documents.

“I want to see a strong opposition party that will balance the power of the ruling party and advocate for the rule of law,” Mam Sonando said.

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