With the country’s longest post-election deadlock now over and the opposition parliamentarians ready to take their seats, at least some of the CNRP’s most lucrative supporters – those overseas – are struggling to swallow the new concessions.
“Join[ing] the CPP [in the National Assembly] is the same as a male spider mating with the black widow. The chance that he comes out alive is remote,” said Saunora Prom, secretary of Washington, DC-based Cambodian Americans for Human Rights and Democracy.
“The key question of our support is how the CNRP will guarantee the National Election Committee . . . will do its job: ensuring free and fair elections,” Saunora said. “I’m afraid that people will not support them any more for the next election – they did not fulfil their promises yet.”
The CNRP relies heavily on financial contributions from Khmer supporters abroad, especially from backers in the US and Europe, which donated over €150,000 last year.
“Approximately 50 to 70 per cent of the party’s budget is supplied by overseas donors,” said CNRP treasurer Ky Wandara.
He declined to speculate on what the party would do if overseas financial support dried up but did admit that several concerned donors have called seeking clarification.
“The agreement made between parties was based on the demands of the people. I ask all donors to trust our leaders,” he said.
But internationally, observers found it hard to comprehend why the party that had come to symbolise democratic reform conceded to the bigger contender on the playground.
“The majority of Cambodians in the world are not satisfied with the decision of the CNRP,” said Moeung Sonn, a former board member of the Sam Rainsy Party who is in exile in France. “Everyone feels that the new reform only exchanges some personnel of the NEC members with committees, but they cannot solve the serious problems of Cambodia like that.”
Analysts argued that if the CNRP intends to weather through the new agreement until the next election, it will need to quickly regain supporters’ ears and pockets.
“In any party, unity is very important,” said Chea Vannath, an independent political analyst. “When parties start to have in-house fighting, it weakens the party and makes it vulnerable to outsiders’ interference.”