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Three parties promise to free Sokha, other ‘prisoners of conscience’

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Kong Monika, President of Khmer Will Party, addresses supporters at a rally in Phnom Penh on Saturday. Heng Chivoan

Three parties promise to free Sokha, other ‘prisoners of conscience’

The campaign season is now underway in the Kingdom and at least three political parties have included in their platform promises to release the “political prisoners” of the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) should they win the July 29 polls.

The Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) said it will “free all political prisoners” should it win. Additionally, the Khmer Will Party (KWP) and the Khmer United Party (KUP) have also promised to review the cases of “prisoners of conscience”.

However, a former leader of the CNRP claimed that the statements were moot as no party would be able to beat the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).

The GDP’s spokesman and secretary-general Sam Inn wrote in its official party book: “We will release Kem Sokha and free other prisoners of conscience and political prisoners, who include land activists such as Tep Vanny [a suspect in the Boeung Kak Lake land conflict] and allow the 118 banned CNRP politicians to enter the political arena again.”

He said his party’s policy on national reconciliation included two main points – the first, to create a “government of national solidarity” by inviting other political parties that have seats in the National Assembly to join a coalition government.

And the second is to create a “Supreme Council of National Construction” which would invite the former prime minister and presidents of National Assembly and Senate to become members and receive “immunity” from legal troubles.

“We will invite former CNRP members such as Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy to become members of the Supreme Council of National Construction to let them discuss and provide advice to the prime minister."

“We will solve political deadlock in the country. We want all Khmer people to work together in solidarity, even though we have different opinions,” Inn said.

The GDP called on all people, including former CNRP supporters to vote on July 29.

In an interview with The Post over the weekend at the headquarters of the KWP, party president Kong Monika said he would negotiate the release of “prisoners of conscience” and drop the charges against Kem Sokha if he wins the ballot.

“I call on opposition supporters to vote for the KWP on July 29. We will work together to achieve good accomplishments for the party,” he said.

In a similar fashion, KUP president Khem Rithiseth said on Monday that his party will review the charges against prisoners of conscience, especially Kem Sokha.

Rithiseth is the younger brother of Kem Ley, a political analyst who was killed in broad daylight two years ago. Many suspect that the killing was politically motivated, with Ley’s widow and sons seeking refuge in Australia.

“Kem Sokha was charged by the court and is imprisoned. We don’t know yet the real reasons which lead to his arrest … we will review it,” Rithiseth said.

Mu Sochua, the former deputy president of the CNRP told The Post from abroad that there is no political party that could beat Hun Sen’s ruling CPP.

“The only party that can compete successfully with the CPP was the CNRP,” Sochua wrote.

Similarly, analyst Lao Mong Hay called the remarks from minor party leaders “meaningless promises”.

“It is very doubtful that CNRP supporters can believe those parties have a chance to win the election. Their promises don’t mean much … they cannot win hearts and minds with such a meaningless promise.”

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