T HE Ieng Mouly faction of the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP) has voted
to expel six opposing party members, a source has told the Post.
- which could lead to the members losing their seats in the National Assembly -
was decided at a July 20 meeting of Mouly and his supporters.
A vote to
expel Son Sann, Son Soubert, Pol Ham, Keat Sokhun, Kem Sokha and Koy Chheoun
from the party was passed with minimal dissent, according to one person
But there was some discussion on "whether it was necessary to
expel all six members or only some of them".
However, Mouly himself was
quoted as saying on July 24 that no decision on the six had yet been made. He
could not be reached for further comment.
Earlier, in another
behind-the-scenes move, the Mouly faction replaced BLDP MP Son Chhay as
Secretary-General of the party - a position he was appointed to by the same
faction less than two months ago.
Sieng Lapresse, a BLDP member who is
also the Ministry of Information's official spokesman, is said to have been
appointed to the role.
One party member, who would not be named, said
Chhay was replaced while "away on a trip to Malaysia between July 10 and 15" and
did not find out about it until his return.
The reason for the dumping of
Chhay, who spoke in favor of Mouly at the latter's recent congress of BLDP
members, remains unclear.
But political jockeying for position between
the two BLDP factions - those of Ieng Mouly and Son Sann - continues
Son Sann, in a July 12 letter to National Assembly chairman
Chea Sim, labeled Mouly's recent congress as "illegal" and that Mouly had
already been expelled from the party.
Son Sann and his supporters, who
are organizing their own BLDP congress on Oct 1, voted to expel Mouly on June
Meanwhile, Mouly wrote to assembly deputy chairman Loy Sim Chheang on
July 13 to request that Son Sann and the five MPs who support him be barred from
using BLDP seals and logos.
Mouly wrote that his congress had passed a
vote of no confidence in the six and authorized the laying of official
complaints "against any individual who illegally uses the official seal, opens
an office or organizes meetings of the BLDP".
Neither letter has received
a response, and the legal situation remains vague.
But if National
Assembly officials should accept the legality of Mouly's faction - and given the
case of dissident Funcinpec MP Sam Rainsy - the six MPs could find themselves
out of the assembly as well as the party.
Attempts to reach a compromise
between the opposing groups have been made, though people on both sides hold
little hope they will be successful.
A member of the Son Sann faction
said Sann had agreed to step down as BLDP President and accept the post of
Honorary President, if that was what the majority of the party
"He accepted the proposal and he accepted the reorganization of
the party structure as long as BLDP did not give up its political line and
principles," the source said.
The member admitted that many party members
felt "Son Sann is too old and very anti-Vietnamese and does not have the support
of the international community."
He added: "I do not think there will be
a compromise, though I hope so."
Said another Son Sann faction member: "I
think the party will be destroyed because the government does not want any
A Ieng Mouly follower was also candid.
members support Ieng Mouly because they hope they will get important jobs in the
government. They think he is closer to Funcinpec and CPP."
Very little is
known about how much support each BLDP side actually commands at the rank and
Estimates of the attendance at Mouly's recent congress ranged
from 1500 to the official figure of 5000. Critics from the Son Sann group say
there were no representatives from provinces like Takeo and Kompong
Son Sann's support will not become clear until his own congress,
but the Post has seen a declaration signed by 80 party officials from one
province in support of him.
Meanwhile, King Norodom Sihanouk, in a July
18 letter to Son Sann, said he could not be involved in a party's internal
affairs, according to a member of the Son Sann group.