The opposition’s challenges in Ratanakkiri province’s Pate commune have been compounded after their sitting commune chief Rmam Yout threw his support behind the Cambodian People’s Party, following his exclusion from the CNRP’s candidate list for the commune elections.
Last month, Sam Rainsy Party commune chief Rmam Yout decried his and other council members’ omission from the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s list of candidates for the June ballot. On Saturday, he attended a CPP commune meeting, claiming to now be an ordinary citizen.
“After the party kicked me out, I am a normal citizen. So, I can go to any party if they need me,” he said yesterday. The defection follows the CPP’s selection of longtime rights worker and critic of the ruling party Chhay Thy, as the party’s commune chief candidate. Thy is expected to bolster the ruling party’s prospects in the commune, given his work with the region’s ethnic Jarai community during his tenure at rights group Adhoc.
Thy said Rmam’s inclusion in the party would improve his chances of winning. “He is supporting the CPP and people in his village also come with him to support CPP,” he said.
The province’s CNRP executive director Rann Saloeun said the party would have tried to accommodate the commune chief at the district council.
“But if he goes to CPP, I have nothing to say,” he said. “There was a problem because some officials who were naughty did not include his name [on the list].”