F ORMER MP Sam Rainsy returned briefly to Cambodia on Sept 14 after six weeks in
the United States and Canada gathering support for a new political
The former Finance Minister and expelled National Assembly member
said he expects to launch an opposition party by the end of this year, after the
upcoming party congresses scheduled by BLDP and Funcinpec.
He said he was
optimistic about the prospects of gaining new blocks of support from
disenfranchised members of Funcinpec - the party that threw him out in June -
and BLDP, which is badly split by a feud between its founders. BLDP's congress
is scheduled in October, and Funcinpec's in November.
"I have to wait for
these two things. Then we will see things clearer," Rainsy said.
he doesn't want to rush. There is still more than two years to gear up for the
In particular, the explosive feud within BLDP that has
already led to the suicide by one BLDP member last month, could splinter the
party and create support for an opposition party.
"If Son Sann is
defeated there would be many BLDP supporters who will be disappointed and who
will look for a way to continue their fight. At that time we can form a new
political party together," said Rainsy.
Son Soubert, a leader of the
anti-Ieng Mouly faction of BLDP, has already indicated he would talk to Rainsy
about a new party.
Similarly, Rainsy said he could pick up support from
unhappy members of Funcinpec if they find at the congress that "they cannot
influence the leadership of Funcinpec any longer."
Mouly, head of one of
the BLDP factions and Minister of Information, said he did not believe the BLDP
would lose members to a new Rainsy party.
"No, I don't think so," he
said, adding, "It's the right of everyone to choose a party."
Minister Norodom Ranariddh, head of Funcinpec, was not available for comment, a
While in the United States in August Rainsy met with
several U.S. senators and congressmen and their staff to discuss what he said
was a deteriorating human rights situation in Cambodia.
He said he
delivered a message of concern about "the human rights situation, democratic
values, the situation with the MPs and the journalists who have been
"I told them I hope I remain an isolated case, but I am afraid
I have set a precedent," he said.
He said he spent several days meeting
with Cambodian-Americans in California, Oregon, Massachusetts and Rhode Island
and raised money for an NGO that will work to alleviate the food shortage in
Cambodia. The aim of the organization is to dig wells and build canals to help
rice growing villages.
Rainsy is now in Australia, where he planned to
meet with opposition leaders and Senator Garath Evans, the Australian foreign
In October he will press ahead for a judgement in Bucharest,
the capital of Romania, where the Interparliamentary Union is scheduled to take
up his expulsion from the National Assembly. He said he expected the union to
determine, as its staff already has, that his expulsion in June was
He said he didn't know if he would ever be reinstated to the
Cambodian assembly, but he would do every thing possible to carry out his fight
"Whether the Cambodian government will abide by the decision is
another story," he said.