A senior Sam Rainsy Party official said the party was looking to win half the
vote in next year's general election, and hoped to quadruple its share of the
National Assembly's 122 seats.
Sam Rainsy receives a blessing from monks June 15.
To do so would require strengthening the
party structure at the grassroots level, something the ruling Cambodian People's
Party's has done successfully for years.
Meng Rita, a member of the SRP's
steering committee, told the Post June 17 his party would establish village
councils to boost the SRP's structure at the local level. That, he said, should
translate into many more votes for the opposition.
councils affiliated to the party have already been set up," said Rita. "We will
strengthen what we have and continue to expand to ensure the creation of group
councils. Once that is done we will gain more support from the
At the SRP's extraordinary congress, which was held June 15, a
representative from the US branch of the party told the 4,000 strong crowd that
supporters in that country had raised sufficient money for the July 27, 2003
Other than discussing the village councils, Rita
refused to elaborate on the strategies the party would use to achieve its goals,
but said the SRP "hopes to secure from 55 to 65 parliamentarian
Setting up village councils would improve the interaction between
the grassroots and the top of the SRP, he explained, and the party hoped it
would mirror the highly successful structure the CPP has used for two
Rita said that local structures would improve people's knowledge
of what the party stood for, and provide for news, issues and policy to filter
both down from and up to the hierarchy.
It would also allow the SRP to
respond more rapidly to problems of political intimidation and violence, as well
as social issues such as land grabs, a common problem in Cambodia.
SRP does not occupy a position in the media like the CPP, because the government
rejected our proposal to do so," said Rita.
"We will explain to the people
why they are poor: we will show that it is not due to sinning in a previous
life. We are strengthening our party in search of increased voting support from
He added that the SRP had half a million registered members.
"The CPP is not so happy since we are putting our hands in deeper and deeper,"
The SRP won 15 parliamentary seats in the 1998 general election,
and hopes also to capitalize on the problems within the royalist Funcinpec
Observers and party members acknowledge the party is in trouble
after its disastrous performance in the commune elections, as well as suffering
from internal strife.
Rita denied the SRP was divided, although several
political observers have said there are rifts over the style of leadership.