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‘Stay calm,’ Kem Sokha urges party

CNRP members attend a permanent committee meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photo supplied
CNRP members attend a permanent committee meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photo supplied

‘Stay calm,’ Kem Sokha urges party

The opposition party announced it would recruit more women, young people and ethnic minorities as candidates ahead of the 2017 elections after a meeting yesterday, in which a ruling party “attack” strategy was dismissed as “propaganda”.

The CNRP, bolstered by the overwhelming response to the murder of political analyst Kem Ley, said it would encourage people at the grassroots level to stand for election with their party, even if they were not currently members.

After the meeting, party lawmaker Mu Sochua said the party reforms – which will see final candidates selected by commune committees rather than at the national level – were designed to be more inclusive, and her party was “speaking the same language” as the late public figure.

“The mass of people who joined the funeral procession, and what it means to the nation, was a very important sign of hope. We feel that we have listened to Dr Kem Ley and we will continue to travel that path,” she said.

Sochua said the recent Cambodian People’s Party Central Committee meeting – in which they resolved to “attack” and “weaken” the CNRP – was mentioned but not given importance. “We are not in the business of controlling or wielding power in order to destroy other parties. We are determined and committed to solving the problems for our people,” she said.

But a lawmaker at the meeting, who requested anonymity to speak freely, said acting president Kem Sokha instructed them to “stay calm” and said the CPP’s talk was a “distraction”.

“[Sokha] said ‘don’t believe what the CPP has said, because that is propaganda, that we will be harassed at all levels . . . It’s to intimidate the supporters’,” the lawmaker said. “He said ‘don’t say we don’t worry about the absence of leadership or don’t say we badly need it . . . We must not get trapped by the strategy of the CPP’.”

CPP spokesman Suos Yara objected to the use of the word “propaganda” and pointed out there had been no official statement from last week’s meeting, details of which were published by the Post.

“You can only compare with the results of our ruling party and our achievements . . . but [the CNRP] always make empty promises,” he said.

He said the recent murder of Ley – which some have alleged was orchestrated by the government – had not hardened the hearts of the people toward his party. “We liberated the country, and we saved the people, so we have nothing to worry about at the elections.”

The CNRP said they would adopt a decentralisation policy called “active communes”, partially developed by Ley, which would see each commune assigned a $1 million budget along with procedures to distribute the money for commune-level services.

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