M EMBERS of the Son Sann faction of the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP) have hailed Second Prime Minister Hun Sen's offer to help reunite the party.
Son Sann's Secretary-General, Keat Sokun, has been assigned to meet with Hun Sen to try to work out proposals for reconciliation with the Ieng Mouly side of BLDP.
"I was asked by the executive committee to extend our welcome and thank him for his willingness," Sokun said this week. He said he would meet to hear the "ideas and experience" of Hun Sen and relay them to the Son Sann-led BLDP board of directors.
Sokun confirmed that Hun Sen's initiative came in an informal conversation with Son Sann at Pochentong airport's VIP room during a ceremony to welcome the King's return from a state visit to Laos. The pair talked for about 30 minutes.
"Samdech Hun Sen came in and started saying that he wanted to see BLDP reunited and he would be a mediator," Sokun quoted Son Sann as saying. "He said that he was not the one who threw the grenades," Sokun said, in reference to the grenade attacks which injured about 35 Son Sann supporters on Sept 30.
"Samdech Son Sann said that Samdech Hun Sen talked frankly and he understood him," he added.
Sann supporters greeted Sen's move positively. "It is a good sign if he has a real intention for us to reconcile," said MP Kem Sokha.
Keat Sokun said: "I should thank the second prime minister for helping reconciliation. I believe he can influence Ieng Mouly. For us, we have intended to reconcile since a long time ago but Ieng Mouly did not want to reach out his hand."
Meanwhile Mouly, who led a breakaway BLDP congress on July 9, reacted coolly to the news. "I have no opinion now because nothing has really happened yet," he said.
An aide of Hun Sen's, Om Yin Tieng, cautioned that outside help to reunite the party would not be useful unless its protagonists were prepared to settle their differences in the first place.
"Outsiders can not do anything unless the insiders step forward - Son Sann and Ieng Mouly sit down together first. Our help is limited because we cannot interfere in somebody's internal affairs," said Yin Tieng.
The BLDP's festering split has taken a heavy toll, including the death of Kandal MP Meas Chan Leap, who shot himself dead in the National Assembly in August. The suicide did not help encourage both sides to mend their fences; in fact both sides blamed each other for causing it.
Meanwhile, Chan Leap's seat in the National Assembly was recently filled by Lay Y Pisith - a Mouly supporter - who was next on BLDP's 1993 election list for Kandal.