Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - BLDP ruptures; expulsions expected

BLDP ruptures; expulsions expected

BLDP ruptures; expulsions expected

T HE BLDP party has fallen apart, with the usurped faction claiming that

"Cambodia is not ready for democracy" and wondering aloud what the United

Nations intends to do about it.

Prime Minister Hun Sen supported Ieng

Mouly's bid for the BLDP leadership, which left Cambodia without effective

opposition, said Son Soubert, who was elected party vice president in

May.

Mouly himself, at a disputed, parallel party congress he called on

July 9, said: "We have to opt whether we have to stay in the opposition or

within the government.

"I'm a minister in the government, so I cannot be

in the opposition. Our party is... one of the partners in the government," said

Mouly, the present Minister of Information.

Soubert, his father, party

founder Son Sann (presently in Paris recuperating from an eye operation), and

MPs Keat Sokhun, Kem Sokha, Pol Ham and Koy Chhoeurn were all included in a vote

of no confidence during Mouly's congress.

Soubert was - at press time -

awaiting the reaction of Funcinpec leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh to claims

that the congress was irregular and illegal and should not be

legitimized.

Soubert said Hun Sen - "but maybe not the CPP in totality" -

has already recognized and supported Mouly's leadership.

If Ranariddh

accepted Mouly as leader "despite the illegalities" then Soubert - presently the

Deputy Vice President of the National Assembly - said he fully expected to be

expelled from Parliament along with his five colleagues who appear even now to

be in the wilderness.

"We don't know the real position of Prince

Ranariddh... maybe he maintains a grudge against us because we were outspoken in

support of [former Siem Reap MP Sam] Rainsy," Soubert said.

"If Funcinpec

recognizes Mouly's congress then its political, there is no question about

legality."

"Funcinpec have already created a precedent" with their

expulsion of Rainsy, he said.

Expulsions would also be expected among

BLDP provincial officials loyal to the Son Sann clique, Soubert

said.

Mouly said that if his rivals did not react positively to his

congress' resolutions "they will be kicked out." He did not specify a

date.

Soubert said he had asked for assistance from the UN Center for

Human Rights (UNCHR) but they could not help as he could not provide them with

an English translation of the party's internal procedures.

"How now will

the international community react, especially the UN? They have spent so much

money here for nothing," he said.

"Are the Paris Agreements still valid?

There is supposed to be a democracy in Cambodia but this is not the way to

democracy."

When Son Sann returned from France, "probably some time after

July 17", he would be talking with the King, but all that could be probably

hoped for was - as in Rainsy's case - the King might write an expression of

support, Soubert said.

The Son Sann faction may also ask for a mass

meeting "but I doubt we would be allowed," he said.

Soubert said he would

test the government by asking the Ministry of Interior for his own party

congress, probably in September. "[Co-Interior Ministers] Sar Kheng and You

Hockry could not oppose us in principal, but they may argue that there is now

just one BLDP."

His father has already told Son Soubert from Paris that

Mouly's move was not valid.

Funcinpec members as well as those from the

CPP were present at Mouly's congress - as were embassy representatives from,

among others, the United States, which "saddened" Soubert.

He said he had

previously told Ambassador Charles Twining his presence would legitimize the

meeting "but Charlie just looked on and said nothing."

"Maybe they want

to show they are friends to everyone."

A United States Embassy spokesman

said that it was "sad but true" that, with an elected coalition government,

there was no opposition within the National Assembly anyway.

The Embassy

attended all major political meetings it was invited to "and we would attend,

and have attended, one of the Son Sann's faction already," the spokesman

said.

Mouly said he would "kick out" party members if any of them defied

his leadership, or used the party's name, sign and logo.

Soubert has

already begun a public courting of Rainsy, telling the Post: "Of course [he

could work with Rainsy], we have to gather all our forces

together.

"No-one can afford to sit idle when this kind of dictatorial

system is being set up".

He said "it would be nice" to be an opposition

within the National Assembly however.

"We can set up an alliance but[(the

government] won't give us the right to set up a political party... but we don't

know the electoral law yet."

Soubert said: "I am very distressed when I

think back to all the people who have died for nothing." The precursor to the

BLDP - the KPLNF - fought side-by-side with Royalist forces against the State of

Cambodia regime before the UNTAC elections.

"I remember one military

officer wounded in the field, telling his men to leave him and continue fighting

to set up a democratic Cambodia. This man died there.

"I feel very

distressed about these people... we have betrayed them. They fought for a

democratic Cambodia, for freedom of speech and representation," he said. He said

47 BLDP people - and more than 100 from Funcinpec - died before the Cambodian

elections.

Soubert said if he was expelled "I would be happy because I

can not stay idle or not express my opinion" within the Assembly.

About

1,500 people turned up to Mouly's congress, though some barely had a clue what

it was about. Receipts for 6,000 riel were handed out at the door - though no

money was taken - because people had to be paid-up party members before

voting.

"I have no idea about this congress. They told me to come and

they will pay me, but I have received nothing," said one 18-year-old, who asked

not to be named.

Soubert also said that some officials used Son Sann's

name to attract members, and that BLDP policemen were threatened with a demotion

if they did not attend.

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