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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Students enter political fray

Students enter political fray

Agroup of students has announced they will form a political party to contest the

general election, which is scheduled for July 27. The Democratic Front of Khmer Students

and Intellectuals (DFKSI) said it would approach the government this month to register

the Khmer Front Party (KFP).

"Participation in this election is a must," said DFKSI vice-president Sun

Sokunmelea. "We have a lot of supporters who live inside and outside the country.

Some of them are veteran politicians who will help us."

She said 4,000 members had thumb-printed a document requesting the party be registered.

The student movement claims more than 10,000 activists at the grassroots level nationwide,

but won't release membership numbers for fear "they might be oppressed by the

ruling party".

Sokunmelea said the registration procedure had taken longer than necessary, as the

Ministry of Interior (MoI) had burdened the movement with additional requirements.

For example, she said, co-ministers Sar Kheng and You Hokry had written last month

insisting the students use only the KFP abbreviation. The original application had

also included the DFKSI logo.

DFKSI president Mau Moueng Yat explained the movement had wanted the two logos to

show supporters of the DFKSI that it was affiliated with the KFP.

The DFKSI, which was formed in January 2000, has organized several demonstrations

protesting corruption and the ongoing border disputes with Vietnam and Thailand.

Yat said if the party won seats in the new parliament it would focus on those issues,

as well as illegal immigration from Vietnam.

"We want to create a new history," said Moueng Yat. "The youths should

run political parties by themselves, and should not be used as political tools by


"In the past young people have died while demonstrating, and the politicians

have taken advantage of that. But if we run the party ourselves, even if we die we

will serve our own will."

Yat alleged that some politicians had tried to sabotage the students' intention to

form the KFP. That, he said, had culminated in a public dispute within the movement

which saw the former vice-president, Men Nath, sacked in November.

Sokunmelea said Nath was sacked for not respecting the internal disciplinary procedures

of the DFKSI, and had released confidential information to outsiders. A further disagreement

was that other members were unhappy with his demand for a senior position within

the KFP.

But Men Nath told the Post that he was expelled for objecting to the idea of forming

a political party. He felt the movement should stick to its student goals and stay

out of national politics.

"It is premature to form a political party to compete with the ruling party.

That will split the votes of other democratic political parties," he said. "What

they are doing now will prove unworkable, because the leader has no strategy, no


Nath said he would submit a letter to the MoI later this month requesting it accept

him as the new president of the DFKSI to replace Moueng Yat.

"I just want to support the activities of Cambodia's youth," said Nath.

"It is impossible to compete for power with this government."



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