Fifty-one opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party members defected to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Saturday, according to the CPP.
The former CNRP members in Kampong Speu province were recognised as CPP supporters at a ceremony in Treng Trayoeng commune in Phnom Sruoch district presided over by Serey Kosal, a senior ruling party figure.
“We hope to welcome more in the coming days. They joined with us because they are no longer happy to be members of the opposition,” he said, without elaborating.
Kosal commanded troops loyal to the Funcinpec party during the factional fighting in the late 1990s, and was a self-described “hard-line” opponent of Prime Minister Hun Sen until his own defection to the CPP in 2008.
Yim Sovann, a CNRP spokesman, said that the defections were an “old political move” by the CPP ahead of the 2017 commune elections.
He added that the CPP had used the tactic prior to the 2013 national elections. “But when the results were in we saw the CNRP gain strong support from the Cambodian people,” he said.