In response to a fresh legal assault by the CPP, acting CNRP President Kem Sokha told supporters on Sunday that the party must avoid unnecessary conflict as June’s commune elections edge closer.
Speaking in Kratie province, Mr. Sokha—on a countrywide tour ahead of the upcoming elections—said that the party was close to finalizing its preparations for more than 20,000 party members to stand in 1,646 communes on June 4.
“[You] make me very proud that our party’s local leaders are devoted, understanding, strong, united…and coordinating well to solve internal issues by upholding national and citizens’ interests,” Mr. Sokha said.
A further 40,000 supporters will be recruited and trained as election observers, he said. Parties will have three days starting on March 3 to register candidates lists for the election, National Election Committee spokesman Hang Puthea said on Monday.
Mr. Sokha has been laying relatively low since early December, when he was pardoned at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen of a conviction relating to a “prostitution” case, which was widely believed to be politically motivated.
Since then, the ruling CPP has continued its assault on the opposition, stripping away its “minority” status and announcing plans for a legal amendment that could result in the elimination of the party before the commune elections in June. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who is living in Paris, has been banned from entering the country.
Despite the apparent targeting of his party, Mr. Sokha said that members should avoid conflict with the ruling party.
“I remind you that we have many things to do and we have no time to contend with anyone, so we move forward toward elections,” he said.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said Mr. Sokha’s comments illustrated that there was no bad blood between the two parties.
“Let me clarify the point here: The problem happening so far is just an issue of individual politicians who have committed criminal offenses, not an issue of tough disputes between political parties,” he said.
naren@cambodiadaily.com
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