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Kem Sokha assistant grilled over Rainsy allegation

Prime Minister Hun Sen talks to opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha
Prime Minister Hun Sen talks to opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha after high-level negotiations at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh last year. Heng Chivoan

Kem Sokha assistant grilled over Rainsy allegation

An assistant to deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha was yesterday questioned by a party disciplinary committee after going public with allegations of corruption in the CNRP.

Lak Sopheap, a Cambodia National Rescue Party central committee member, claimed over the weekend that Sokha had accused Sam Rainsy in a party meeting of accepting $20 million to negotiate with Prime Minister Hun Sen during the political deadlock earlier this year.

Ou Chanrith, chairman of the CNRP’s disciplinary committee, said yesterday that the allegations were absolutely false and that Sopheap had been given a further 24 hours to “clarify” her remarks. “If she does not follow this, I will call another committee meeting to take action according to what she has done and to protect the credibility of the party’s leaders,” he said.

Chanrith told the Post on Sunday that Sopheap could face dismissal for her comments, which she made at a forum held by Kem Ley’s Khmer for Khmer “social movement”.

Ley’s democracy-focused movement is being pushed as an alternative to the two major parties.

Sopheap – who claims she tipped off Sokha to alleged corruption in the party, but did not herself blame it on Rainsy – said she stood by her comments.

“I cannot say sorry, because I have not made any mistake,” she said. “I have told them I will not resign. But if they dismiss me, then fine,” she said.

Sopheap repeated on Sunday that “Mr Kem Sokha said that Mr Sam Rainsy received $20 million. Mr Kem Sokha raised it … on December 5.”

She alleges this happened after the tip-off, which implicated “party negotiators” in alleged corruption amounting to some $40 million.

In response to allegations of financial misappropriation against Rainsy, 18 opposition activists thumb-printed a petition on Sunday calling on Anti-Corruption Unit president Om Yentieng to immediately
investigate Rainsy and Sokha in order to clear their names.

However, they added, if the leaders are found to actually be corrupt, then legal action should be taken.

Sokha, currently travelling in Europe with Rainsy, was not reachable yesterday, but his daughter and party deputy public affairs head Kem Monovithya said the allegations were completely baseless.

“Kem Sokha has never accused Sam Rainsy of anything. They have been together for weeks in Europe meeting our chapters abroad,” she said.

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