A former senior opposition figure has joined the Candlelight Party (CP), formerly the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), long after being granted political rehabilitation back in September 2020. CP officials said many former opposition officials had joined the party.
Son Chhay, one of the highest-ranking members of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), made the announcement on March 1 while also calling on his former colleagues to join him.
“The CP is the party that I and my compatriots actively support because we believe it genuinely serves the interests of the nation. I appeal to my former colleagues – join me and support the CP,” he said.
Chhay could not be reached for further comment on March 2.
Sam Sokong, a lawyer and CP member, said many former CNRP officials had applied to join the party, though he did not have exact figures.
He said they wanted to join the CP because it represented democratic hope for Cambodia, although several other former senior opposition figures had formed their own parties.
“We don’t have the exact number of how many ex-CNRP members have joined us, but we expect that after this year’s commune council elections there will be more, because they will see that we provide hope for the people,” he said.
Sokong said the presence of Chhay brings new strength to the CP. Chhay, he noted, is a veteran politician who gained valuable experience with the former SRP and CNRP and that his knowledge would be invaluable for contesting the June 5 elections.
Political analyst Seng Sary said Chhay’s participation is likely to attract more former opposition party members to the CP.
“Chhay is a politician with a clean history, a struggler, and unwavering in his commitment to Cambodia’s democratic path. I think his presence in the CP help the party to gain the trust of the public,” he said.