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SRP expels Mao Monyvann

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Former Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mao Monyvann speaks to reporters outside the National Assembly in Phnom Penh yesterday. He has now been expelled from the party.

The opposition Sam Rainsy Party has expelled former lawmaker Mao Monyvann, one day after he held a press conference criticising the SRP and accusing two senior parliamentarians of monopolising control over the party.

Mao Monyvann, who resigned from his position as a lawmaker representing Kampong Cham province earlier this month, told reporters outside the National Assembly on Tuesday that he was frustrated that the families of SRP parliamentarians Yim Sovann and Eng Chhay Eang appeared to wield excessive control over the party. While he said he preferred the leadership of the Human Rights Party to that of the SRP, he denied having plans to defect.

Yesterday, however, the SRP distributed a press release stating that its leaders had decided to ask Mao Monyvann to resign from the party following a meeting held via videoconference with party leader Sam Rainsy, who currently lives abroad to avoid a pair of criminal convictions handed down last year.

“Mao Monyvann’s action is not a request or suggestion to reform the leadership of the party, but on the contrary, his action is against the interests of the party,” the SRP said.

Mao Monyvann said in his press conference on Tuesday that even Sam Rainsy “cannot liberate himself from the grasp” of the families of Yim Sovann and Eng Chhay Eang, accusing the pair of making decisions without consulting the rest of the party. The former Kampong Cham MP, who had also served on the SRP permanent committee, said his expulsion had come because the SRP was unable to accept criticism.

“The party has forced me to resign just because I asked the party to reform internally,” he said.

“I understand that this party does not have real democracy.”

The Human Rights Party said in a statement yesterday that 14 other members of the SRP had decided to defect along with Mao Monyvann, including Loch Pavy, a member of the SRP central committee, and Heng Chanthoun, the SRP president for Pursat province.

Yim Sovann said the SRP was better off without Mao Monyvann, and suggested that the former lawmaker may ultimately be planning to defect to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, an allegation Mao Monyvann has denied.

The HRP and SRP have been in talks for the last few months to discuss a possible merger prior to the national elections in 2012 and 2013, though talks are currently stalled due to a disagreement over the proposed leadership structure of the unified party.

HRP president Kem Sokha called Mao Monyvann’s defection “a good decision”, and said he thought more such moves from the SRP could be coming.

“If the parties cannot merge, a large number of SRP members who want a democratic movement for change will come to join,” Kem Sokha said.

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