Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - SRP aims for 65 Assembly seats

SRP aims for 65 Assembly seats

SRP aims for 65 Assembly seats

srp.jpg
srp.jpg

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.

"Thirty village

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

people."

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

general election.

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

seats".

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

decades.

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.

"The

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

the people."

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,"

he said.

The SRP won 15 parliamentary seats in the 1998 general election,

and hopes also to capitalize on the problems within the royalist Funcinpec

party.

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.

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