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Thy Sovantha plans to sue 5,000 CNRP councillors

Social media celebrity Thy Sovantha speaks to the press outside Phnom Penh Court earlier this year in Phnom Penh.
Social media celebrity Thy Sovantha speaks to the press outside Phnom Penh Court earlier this year in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Thy Sovantha plans to sue 5,000 CNRP councillors

Social media celebrity and former CNRP activist Thy Sovantha confirmed yesterday she intends to file a complaint against the more than 5,000 opposition councillors currently in office for being accomplices to alleged “treason” by the party and its leader Kem Sokha.

Sovantha yesterday said a group of lawyers had been asked to study whether charges could be filed against the opposition’s councillors, but that she would wait to see the outcome of a hearing on the CNRP’s dissolution on Thursday, as well as the result of a trial for “treason” against Sokha, before filing her complaint.

“The activities of CNRP officials, who are continuing to participate with Kem Sokha and the CNRP, show clearly that almost 5,000 commune officials are participating and committing treason with the CNRP,” she said.

While reluctant to answer further, Sovantha took to Facebook to compare the recently elected local officials to suspects in a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey that saw military plotters bomb the parliament and take to the streets in tanks.

After the attempt was quelled, President Tayyip Erdogan rounded up nearly 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers for their alleged roles in the coup, raising questions as to whether Erdogan had used the uprising as a pretext to purge those loyal to a political rival.

Thy Sovantha first gained stardom as the face of the CNRP’s social media engagement ahead of the 2013 national elections. But her relationship with the main opposition party began to sour after CNRP lawmakers accused her in 2014 of being a spy for the Cambodian People’s Party. After an unverified recording emerged of Sokha telling an alleged mistress that Sovantha took advantage of overseas supporters for funds, she responded by suing the then-party vice president.

She also sued former party President Sam Rainsy earlier this year for his claims that she received $1 million from Prime Minister Hun Sen to fund her social activities – accusations stemming from leaked chats purportedly between her and the premier himself.

The threat to sue was of little concern to Sin Rozeth, CNRP commune chief in Battambang’s O’Char commune. “If they want to sue, go ahead.”

Similarly, Chen Sokngeng, chief of Sala Kamroeuk commune in Siem Reap, said it was tiring having to fend off attacks from the CPP and its surrogates – all intended to get CNRP councillors to jump ship. “I’ve never seen political messages that threaten to sue those who do not defect to them.”

Updated Tuesday 14 November, 7:01am.

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