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Sokha stays above fray

Kem Sokha leaves the CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh yesterday after a meeting with senior party officials.
Kem Sokha leaves the CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh yesterday after a meeting with senior party officials. Hong Menea

Sokha stays above fray

As recordings continued to emerge yesterday of a man purported to be deputy opposition president Kem Sokha engaging in a flirtatious extramarital conversation – this time with yet another alleged mistress – the Cambodia National Rescue Party chief took to Facebook vowing not to engage with attempts to agitate his party.

In a Facebook post yesterday, accompanied by photos of Sokha flanked by party members at a meeting at CNRP headquarters, the opposition chief said unnamed people were deflecting attention from more pressing political issues.

“We have encountered a lot of obstacles and we also know that as long as we still maintain our strong position, as is the people’s will, we will still meet more obstacles in the future,” Sokha wrote.

He did not address the accusations of affairs directly yesterday, but made reference to unnamed provocateurs.

“We must not do things based on emotion or react when they prod us to make us angry,” his Facebook post reads. “[We] must remain patient. As I have already said, we don’t argue or respond.”

The CNRP is focused solely on its political strategy for upcoming commune and national elections, his post maintained.

Since Monday, at least nine recordings have been released containing flirtatious exchanges between a man that sounds similar to the CNRP deputy chief and women who are not his wife.

The source of the recording was first presented as being Sokha’s alleged mistress. However, on Wednesday, further recordings were released solely from a Facebook page called the Truth of the CNRP, whose administrator claims to be a long-time opposition party activist.

In text accompanying the salacious audio files, the user spouts aggressive anti-opposition rhetoric, slamming Sokha for his infidelity and perceived leadership shortfalls.

Similarly intimate conversations were released on the page yesterday, though this time a new woman can be heard on the recording, which the Truth of CNRP claimed came from another affair dating back to 2011.

The manner in which the leaks have been released has raised questions over the origins of the audio, and whether it involved illegal phone tapping.

Without denying the possibility of the recordings’ authenticity, one commentator has nonetheless suggested the leaks had all the “hallmarks” of a ruling party smear campaign – something the government has strongly denied.

Social commentator and grassroots political activist Kem Ley backed the opposition leader’s stance yesterday.

“When political parties compete, they debate on a political platform, they do not debate on an individual’s issue,” he said, adding that the public is tired of smear campaigns.

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