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Senators join newly formed opposition party

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Ho Vann (L) Ke Sovannroth (R). Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Ho Vann (L) Ke Sovannroth (R). Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

In the latest signs of political maneuvering ahead of July’s national elections, eight out of 11 opposition party senators are planning on resigning their posts to run for seats in the National Assembly under the newly formed Cambodian National Rescue Party banner.

The senators are drawn from the ranks of the Sam Rainsy Party, which joined opposition forces with the Human Rights Party in July to form the CNRP. By following through on their plans, they would be the first elected officials to make the move into the CNRP ahead of the national elections.

Nuth Romduol, one of the senators whose constituency is in Kampong Speu province, said he likes his chances of getting elected there as a National Assembly member.

“There is much support from people to take [me] back there,” Romduol said.

Phnom Penh Senator Ho Vann said he and the other Sam Rainsy Party senators have to resign before May and put their names in the hat as parliamentarians. At the same time, they would submit the names of their replacements to the National Election Committee.

According to Romduol, the names of the other senators are Ke Sovannroth, Eng Chhay Eang, Men Sothavarin, Tach Setha, Ouch Sereyuth and Thak Lany.

Though Romduol presented the move as a way of targeting CPP seats in the upcoming elections, Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann declined to call it part of an officially planned strategy.

“The spokesman issues official information; if not, it’s not official,” Sovann said.

But Puthea Hang, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said that when political parties change, it is normal for them to start seeking support early on.

“The political party that is a competitor always finds a way to choose important actors so that they can struggle over more seats,” he said.

National Election Committee Secretary-General Tep Nytha said that if an opposition party wants to replace any senator, it must send a list of proposed names to the NEC before the end of April.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meas Sokchea at sokchea.meas@phnompenhpost.com

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