The opposition CNRP will on Tuesday decide whether to punish an assistant to deputy party leader Kem Sokha who on Saturday accused party president Sam Rainsy of massive corruption, the chairman of the CNRP’s disciplinary committee said Monday.
Ou Chanrith said that Lak Sopheap, who told reporters at a meeting of political commentator Kem Ley’s “Khmer for Khmer” advocacy group that Mr. Rainsy had illicitly received $20 million, on Monday denied making the claim.
“We, the disciplinary committee, had a meeting with her for about an hour and we asked her to clarify what she said to the media,” Mr. Chanrith said. “She told us she had not said what the media reported concerning the corruption of the CNRP’s leaders.”
“She denied it, and so then I tried to read the newspaper to her,” Mr. Chanrith continued.
Speaking at Mr. Ley’s event, Ms. Sopheap suggested Mr. Rainsy had been engaged in corruption.
“On the 5th [of December], Mr. Kem Sokha criticized that from about $30 or $40 million, Mr. Sam Rainsy took $20 million,” Ms. Sopheap said at the time. “I cannot participate in a society that has leaders committing corruption.”
Mr. Chanrith said Ms. Sopheap explained Monday that she was simply relaying a claim she heard Mr. Sokha make during the December 5 meeting. He said it was possible Ms. Sopheap had misunderstood Mr. Sokha, and so the party gave her until 5 p.m. Monday to correct her mistake.
“We have given her the opportunity to clarify to the media that ‘I did not say what you quoted me as saying,’” he said in the early afternoon. “If she does not do it…we will take actions in line with the internal rules of the party.”
Mr. Chanrith said shortly after 5 p.m. that the CNRP had not heard from Ms. Sopheap and that his committee would reconvene today to discuss what action to take.
Mr. Rainsy has declined to comment on the accusations. Mr. Sokha’s cabinet chief, Muth Chantha, has accused Ms. Sopheap of fabricating her story.
Ms. Sopheap could not be reached Monday.