I N defiance of his recent ouster as Vice-President of the opposition Khmer Nation
Party (KNP), Nguon Soeur says he intends to hold his own party congress on Mar 17.
Soeur maintains that under his stewardship, KNP will finally be granted the official
legal status which has eluded President Sam Rainsy since the party was established
"At the March 17 Congress of the Khmer Nation Party, we will change certain
articles in the party statutes, relating to its logo and founding date," Soeur
said this week. "We will change the foundation date of KNP from Nov 9 to Mar
17. This will be the day that KNP will be reborn."
He added that 2500 people would be invited to attend the congress, to be held at
Bopha Klain Rumsev dancing hall in Tuol Kork district. The meeting would be open
to members of other parties, as well as NGOs and diplomats.
"I am convinced that, at the Mar 17 congress, the government will recognize
KNP," Soeur said, "Sam Rainsy is welcome to attend the congress, but if
he does not come, we will have to see who will be the next president of the Khmer
Rainsy and his supporters, meanwhile, have rallied to discredit Soeur's claims that
he is still a KNP official and that his expulsion was improper.
Rainsy has filed a lawsuit against Soeur alleging that he was guilty of "forgery"
for continuing to claim to represent KNP and for using the party's stationary.
Rainsy - in his quest to secure governmental recognition of the banned party - was
scheduled to lead a Mar 7 KNP delegation to the Ministry of Interior, in spite of
reports that top officials would probably ignore him.
In a Mar 1 letter to You Hockry and Sar Kheng, the Co-Ministers of Interior, Rainsy
criticized them for repeatedly postponing their Feb 16 invitation to hold talks on
the legality of KNP.
Sam Rainsy warned the ministers that - whether they replied to his demands or not
- he would lead a KNP delegation to the Ministry anyway.
"I suggest that our rendez-vous effectively takes place definitely on Thursday,
7 March 1996 at 8:00 am. This time around, I firmly hope that the Ministry of Interior
will no longer make excuses for postponing [the meeting], because such a decision
could raise annoying questions from national and international public opinion."
Soeur said he would not be attending any meeting between the government and Sam Rainsy
and the "young insolents" in KNP.
"I am trying to find a reasonable legal solution to the status of KNP as an
opposition party," Soeur said.
Ministry of Interior chief of cabinet Klok Buddhi, recently asked to comment on Rainsy's
assertions that the Constitution guarantees his right to form KNP, said: "We
do not plan to ban Sam Rainsy's group from the political scene in Cambodia.
"If we allow him to create a political party, it means we have to allow for
the creation of one hundred more political parties. This does not serve the interests
of public order and security. When people comply with the new electoral law, they
will be recognized as official political parties.