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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Son Sann strives for the right to hold his congress

Son Sann strives for the right to hold his congress

S ON Sann's Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP) faction is pressing ahead

with its planned Oct 1 congress, but the official line on whether it can be held

remains unclear.

Co-Minister of Interior You Hockry said Sept 19 that he

would not allow the congress unless BLDP was reunited as one party.


Sann loyalist Kem Sokha claimed that Hockry had earlier given approval for the

congress, as had fellow Minister of Interior Sar Kheng.

Sokha said Hockry

had given Ministry of Interior permission for the congress in a Sept 18 letter

to Sann.

But Hockry told the Post the next day that he had only written

that the congress could proceed if BLDP settled its internal


"In principle one party can hold only one congress," Hockry

said, referring to rival BLDP leader Ieng Mouly's own congress on July


Kem Sokha said Sar Kheng would be asked to confirm his approval for

Sann's congress. Kheng could not be contacted for comment at press


Sann and his supporters say Mouly's congress - which elected him

BLDP president and led to the expulsions of Sann, Sokha and four others - was

illegal. Mouly in return says Sann's congress would be illegal.


legality of Sann's congress was expected to go before the Council of Ministers,

after Second Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed concern to First Prime Minister

Prince Norodom Ranariddh about possible security problems.


meanwhile, has rejected any suggestion he attend the Sann congress, also

referring to the prospect of violence.

Mouly said if he and Son Sann took

their supporters to the congress, people might " make each other angry and this

might lead to fighting."

Even if each other's supporters behaved, there

could be "bad elements from outside who want to...create some


"They may throw three hand grenades and then they can accuse

me, they can accuse the government [of involvement]."

Mouly alleged that

Son Sann had been offering rice to attract people to his congress, and also

offering people jobs in the government.

He said that Sann's officials had

been showing a "falsified" letter from the Council of Ministers agreeing to

accept 10,000 BLDP supporters into the civil service.

Denying reports

that he had threatened that Sann supporters would be arrested if they went to

the Oct 1 congress, Mouly said he had only meant that people who used the fake

letter should be arrested.

Sokha denied Mouly's accusation, saying that

16,000 people had already registered for the congress and Sann did not need to

attract more.

On the fake letter, Sokha said it was maliciously sent to

Sann's office. It was found not to be genuine, and nobody was pretending


Sokha said the Oct 1 congress would elect a new BLDP board of

directors and president. Mouly was invited to attend, and the issue of reuniting

the party would be discussed.

Pol Ham - one of the BLDP MPs Mouly's

faction have voted to expel from the party - said Sann's congress had been

planned for more than a year and was legal.

Ham, who said he was neither

a Sann nor Mouly supporter, said he felt BLDP was being used by Funcinpec and


"I think they intentionally divide BLDP so they can get a pretext to

sack opposition MPs from Parliament. It's a kind of coup d'état."



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