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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mouly's history: the disputes that split a party

Mouly's history: the disputes that split a party

T WO years of internal dissent, primarily over the Buddhist Liberal Democratic

Party's relations with the government, lay behind the splitting of BLDP, says

Ieng Mouly.

Mouly, in a Post interview last week, outlined his version of

the festering dispute with Son Sann which erupted into a leadership war four

months ago.

He acknowledges having little to do with BLDP since accepting

- against Son Sann's wishes - the job of Minister of Information. But he says he

now considers BLDP "my party".

Mouly says his conflict with Son Sann

dated back to before the 1993 election. Son Sann had suggested the party might

withdraw from the election, or ask that it be delayed, following political

violence.

Mouly says that on May 21, 1993 - two days before the election

- he was called to the office of UNTAC chief Yasushi Akashi to "confirm the

stand of the party."

"I told him that there was no way BLDP was going to

withdraw from the election."

That same day, Son Sann sent Akashi a letter

informing him that Mouly was no longer a BLDP representative on the Supreme

National Council, and asked that his name be removed from the list of BLDP

election candidates.

UNTAC officials said that Mouly would have to be

expelled from BLDP for him to be removed as a candidate.

On election day

- by which time it was too late - Sann advised UNTAC that "Mr Ieng Mouly is

dismissed from all positions in the party," according to Mouly.

He

maintains Son Sann's decision was illegal, but he considered leaving voluntarily

anyway.

In the end, he and Sann agreed to patch up their differences - at

least publicly - by signing a joint agreement "to show that we are united again,

and can work together to strengthen the party".

After the election, Mouly

says he argued with Son Sann over whether BLDP MPs could be appointed ministers

in the provisional government, and the later Royal Government.

"He took

the position that BLDP didn't want to have a minister or an MP in the

government, because he wanted a separation of power".

"I told him I

didn't agree, because under the Peace Agreement, we had to choose elected people

for the government... I [said] that if you want to put your people who are not

members of the National Assembly to be part of the government, you can put them

in as deputy ministers, and the ministers must be elected people."

The

dispute intensified when ministerial positions in the Royal government, formed

in November 1993, were split up between the coalition parties.

Funcinpec

had the right to appoint the Minister of Information - and offered it to Mouly,

who accepted.

"Samdech Son Sann was not happy...he told me you belong to

BLDP, why do you occupy a Funcinpec position.

"But [I said] if I wait

until you appoint me to the Royal Government, I can wait maybe one hundred

years."

Mouly believes he was offered the position because both Funcinpec

and CPP wanted the Ministry of Information under neutral control.

He says

that once he took the job, and also became head of the Cambodian Mine Action

Center, he was so busy he had little time for BLDP.

"I did not want to be

active in the party. I just kept quiet. I let him [Son Sann] lead the party, to

do everything.

"Since that time, November 1993, to the day I hold my

congress in 1995, BLDP was slipping. [There was] no activity, except that some

members travel abroad, bringing only a bad image, fighting with each other and

also asking some donor countries not to help Cambodia, etc."

The Mouly/

Sann rift widened early this year because of a dispute over BLDP supporters

getting jobs in the government in line with the Paris Peace

Agreement.

BLDP submitted to the government two lists of people - one

with 10,000 names and the other 5000 - to be given civil service

jobs.

The larger list, supported by Sann, was made on behalf of BLDP. The

second list, which Mouly acknowledges drawing up with the help of a "committee",

was on behalf of BLDP's predecessor, the KPNLF resistance group.

Mouly

says the second list was submitted, and he urged the government to accept it,

after the government did not reply to the first list.

He maintains that

as BLDP was formed after the Peace Agreement, only KPNLF supporters were

entitled to government jobs anyway.

"Mr Son Sann believed that the

government wanted to help me to strengthen my position [against him]. But for

me, I just saw this as my duty to help my [KPNLF] people who spent 14 years at

the border."

The final split between the two came in May this year, when

Sann tried to expel Mouly from the party.

Mouly responded by gathering

his own supporters to expel Sann. Both men ardently claim each other acted

illegally.

Mouly says he had two choices: to quit the party and form his

own, or to stay and fight to "rebuild the party".

"After thinking, I

believed that BLDP was not Son Sann's party, because we have built this party as

a team. I myself wrote the principle of the party. I gave the name of the party

- the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party is the name I took from my booklet,

called Buddhist Liberal Democracy, that I published on the border.

"We

fought together to reach this level. I think it's my party."

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