A group of Siem Reap provincial CNRP officials plan to protest outside the opposition party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh this morning to request that provincial party chief Ke Sovannaroth be ousted due to alleged “irregular spending,” an official said on Sunday.
Ms. Sovannaroth, the wife of CNRP spokesman and executive committee chairman Yim Sovann, has also been a poor leader of CNRP operations in Siem Reap, leading to the need to protest for her removal, said CNRP provincial deputy executive Kong Soeun.
“We want to change her because she has many negative points, such as she has partiality, and her working team has irregular spending,” he said. “We have no choice, as we have submitted a petition three times already to request Ke Sovannaroth be changed out as the working group chief in Siem Reap.”
“This is the first step of our protest. If they still keep Ms. Sovannaroth as working group chief in Siem Reap province, we will hold a big protest,” he added. “We are honest CNRP members and no parties are standing behind us as others have accused.”
Mr. Soeun would not elaborate on the nature of the budget irregularities that his group of supporters accuse Ms. Sovannaroth of overseeing.
A letter released by the 45 CNRP members who plan to protest on Monday says they collected 224 thumbprints from local members and submitted them to the party’s executive on January 8, having first raised concerns about Ms. Sovannaroth in November.
It says officials have met to no avail with both CNRP President Sam Rainsy and deputy leader Kem Sokha to tell them about Ms. Sovannaroth’s “leadership without justice and transparency,” which they claim has caused divisions among opposition members.
Ms. Sovannaroth could not be reached on Sunday but Mr. Sovann, her husband, denied the claims of irregularities and said he would personally fund a trip to Siem Reap for anyone who wishes to audit the accounting books Ms. Sovannaroth has kept there.
“Any international or local company is free to come and check. I will pay for their transportation and hotel accommodation,” Mr. Sovann said. “I think the budget in Siem Reap is OK.”
The CNRP is currently reshuffling its provincial working group leaders. Mr. Rainsy said that the party would inquire into the claims against Ms. Sovannaroth.
“We have been busy recently, but we are used to resolving such events. There are always people who are unhappy, and we will address all the issues in light of what we have to do, not only for Siem Reap but for the whole country,” Mr. Rainsy said.