S AM Rainsy's deputy Ngoun Soeur has been sacked and has petitioned the government
to be allowed to hold an alternative Khmer Nation Party (KNP) congress.
Soeur said that he would take "thousands" of KNP supporters with him and
that whoever can convice the government to legally recognize the KNP - which Rainsy
has been unsuccessfully trying to do for more than three months - "would
be rightful to lead it."
Rainsy compared Soeur's move with what happened last year to split the Buddhist Liberal
Democratic Party (BLDP).
Rainsy blamed the government for "organizing" the split within his party.
It was a bad week for Rainsy:
- Feb 14, Soeur was sacked. Rainsy and Soeur traded insults;
- Feb 15, Rainsy asked the Phnom Penh court for a legal ruling on the government's
refusal to recognize the KNP as a political party;
- Feb 16, perhaps the most sensational news of the fortnight, another of Rainsy's
deputies, Moung Mondale, was sacked. KNP members in America alleged Mondale was under
investigation there for murdering his wife's uncle, an allegation denied by California
police. Mondale had left the country on Feb 13 for "three weeks for medical
- Feb 16, the Ministry of Interior offered to talk to Rainsy about the legitimacy
of the KNP;
- Feb 17, Rainsy agreed to the ministry's invitation, and proposed the talks go
ahead on Feb 22.
- Feb 20, Rainsy faxed news media saying that the ministry has postponed the talks.
Ngoun Soeur told the Post that he had asked the government for permission to hold
an alternative KNP congress.
Rainsy said that the postponement of the talks was "hiding [government] manuevers
to promote a dissident group [within the KNP] which benefits from political, financial
and logistical support of the government." Rainsy was clearly speaking about
what may emerge as a "Nguon Soeur faction."
"These manuevers recall the ones that Ieng Mouly used to divide BLDP,"
The ministry though couldn't make the Feb 22 appointment because Prum Sokha - who
was designated to meet Rainsy - was away in Bangkok. "We're not obliged to be
busy with just KNP alone," said a ministry spokesman.
Meanwhile, Rainsy's Feb 15 complaint to the court was done, he said, to resolve the
question of his party's legitimacy.
He told the court: "Rather it is the decision of the Government itself [to declare
the KNP unlawful] which has violated the Constitution, [and] has no legal basis...
and which should thus be considered unlawful and annulled".
In the case of Mondale, the KNP steering committee voted unanimously to sack him
from his position as third vice-president after receiving an allegation from KNP
supporters in Long Beach that "Moung Mondale is under investigation by the City
of Long Beach Police Department on the killing of his wife's uncle. He doesn't deserve
But Long Beach police told the Post that there is no investigation involving Mondale.
"No one by the name of Moung Mondale has been listed as a suspect in any murder
investigation going back to 1993," a Long Beach Police spokesman said.
The same KNP supporters in Long Beach also said Mondale had conducted "dubious
activities" harmful to the party and that he made "the most improper comment...
by claiming that he is an agent of other group to sabotage our success."
Beyond repair now is the relationship between Rainsy and Soeur. They called each
other "egocentric" and "tricky" during the past fortnight which
culminated in Soeur's sacking.
Soeur's former colleagues said he had "incited fractions within the party",
while Rainsy - claiming to be talking on behalf of most of his steering committee
- describing Soeur as an "egocentric" with a temper that was difficult
to work with.
He said that Soeur has "directly and indirectly" threatened to accuse him
of having contacts with the Khmer Rouge, illegally hiding weapons, plotting to topple
the government and to kill Hun Sen. Soeur has denied such charges.
Soeur called his expulsion illegal and claimed he still remained the KNP vice-president.
At a press conference on Feb 16, he called Rainsy "tricky" and asked "If
he's tricky like this, how can he be the leader of the country in the future?"
"Don't assume that the problem is over with Ngoun Soeur's expulsion. The show
has just begun."
Rainsy said: "Some change of the top level is not important. What is important
is the confidence, the hope the Cambodian people place in the KNP which is the only
alternative to this corrupt and authoritarian government."
Meanwhile, the car the Ministry of Interior confiscated from KNP's deputy treasurer
Kuoy Bunroeun has been returned to its original owner Sea Chin Leng.
Bunroeun's uncle, Sea Savoeun - who had lent the car to Bunroeun - said a solution
was reached when he agreed to accept $2,000 from the wife of Pang Seak Hong - the
man who cheated Chin Leng of his vehicle.
Hong has disappeared after collecting $3,000 from mortgaging Chin Leng's car to Savoeun.
When Bunroeun borrowed the car from Savoeun, police stopped him and accused him of
That led to a three-hour armed siege on the KNP's office on Jan 29.