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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Son Sann faction gets Mouly marching orders

Son Sann faction gets Mouly marching orders

Son Sann faction gets Mouly marching orders

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.

The move

- 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

present.

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

unchecked.

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

18.

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

wanted.

"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

opposition."

A Ieng Mouly follower was also candid.

"Many BLDP

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

file level.

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

Thom.

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.

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