Murdered political analyst Kem Ley planned to join the Cambodia National Rescue Party, CNRP president Sam Rainy has claimed, suggesting the political threat posed by such a move could be a motive behind his killing.
Rainsy made the claim in France on July 17 in a speech to supporters that was uploaded to his Facebook page on Monday, saying his murder was intended to stop it from happening.
Contacted yesterday via email, the self-exiled politician stood by the remarks, saying Ley, who was advising the CNRP on its policy platform, had expressed the wish to eventually join the opposition party during a meeting with CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha at party headquarters on June 3.
“Kem Sokha told me so after his last meeting with Kem Ley,” said Rainsy, who noted Ley’s wife was at the meeting.
“This would be consistent with what the two had done together, openly or more discretely. Kem Ley had told Kem Sokha that he had to criticise the CNRP on some points to assert his independence but his ultimate goal was to help the CNRP win the next elections. Hence his valuable contribution to the CNRP’s political platform.”
Sokha could not be reached to verify the statement yesterday. Ley’s wife Bou Rachana declined to comment.
Ley was shot dead as he drank his morning coffee at a Phnom Penh petrol station on July 10. Though the suspected killer Oeut Ang, who was arrested after fleeing the scene, claimed he killed the analyst over a debt, many have been quick to suspect a political motive behind the murder.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Rainsy pointed the finger at the government, calling the slaying state-backed terrorism.
However, Prime Minister Hun Sen and ruling Cambodian People’s Party officials have rejected accusations of involvement.
Yesterday, CPP spokesman Sok Eyan again blasted Rainsy’s accusations, suggesting the opposition, in fact, had more cause to be angry with Ley over his work to found the Grassroots Democracy Party, which he noted could take votes from the CNRP.
“Now the question is who had reason to kill Dr Kem Ley,” Eysan said.“The Cambodian People’s Party . . . does not want problems of an armed robbery or murder to take place, because that’s the responsibility of the ruling party and royal government.”
Additional reporting by Shaun Turton