Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders will journey to Siem Reap on Wednesday to find a solution between provincial party chief Ke Sovannaroth and provincial party officials who have called for her to be removed from the position.
The leaders yesterday said they would intervene after 55 CNRP members from Siem Reap protested outside the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh demanding she be replaced.
They have accused Sovannaroth of “irregular spending” and nepotism. Sovannaroth is the wife of senior party lawmaker and spokesman Yim Sovann.
Sam Rainsy told the party members that while he had received letters calling for Sovannaroth’s ouster before, he and deputy leader Kem Sokha would collect more information and listen to all sides.
Seng Rotha, the deputy director of a party coordination group in Siem Reap’s Kralanh district, said that although Sovannaroth had been in the position for 10 years, there had been little power decentralisation.
He also complained that accountability and transparency had been lacking under her watch.
“We want a democratic leadership style, which means [the position] should be replaced after two terms. But now she has reached her third mandate already,” he said.
Sovannaroth rejected the criticisms and said she had followed good management practices, including holding monthly meetings and issuing financial reports.
“If I were nepotistic, why would I join the opposition party?” she said.
She said, however, that she would let party leaders and the provincial party structure decide on whether she would continue in her position. But, she added, she could not be in Siem Reap on Wednesday due to a scheduled meeting with Health Minister Mam Bun Heng.
Sovannaroth heads the National Assembly’s Commission on Health, Labour and Women’s affairs.
The protesting party members said yesterday that they had three times previously requested that the central leadership remove Sovannaroth but had received no reply from leaders.
They said if Rainsy declined their request, they would continue to hold demonstrations.