About 25 CNRP members from Svay Rieng province traveled to Phnom Penh on Thursday to demand that opposition lawmaker Kong Sophea be removed from the party’s provincial working group for promoting his friends, but left empty-handed.
They accuse Mr. Sophea, the group’s deputy chairman, of removing some of them from their positions on either the provincial working group or support group to make room for members of his personal clique.
“We came to demand the removal of His Excellency Kong Sophea,” said Sok Kunthear, who was removed from his position on the working group.
“People have been working since 2013, but on June 6 he announced the new composition and the old members were gone, so we came to protest,” Mr. Kunthear said.
“Anyone who joined with him got a position,” said Sok Chanthy, who said he was kicked off the support group.
The disgruntled opposition activists were speaking outside the CNRP’s Phnom Penh headquarters after meeting with lawmaker Ou Chanrith, who chairs the party’s Svay Rieng working group.
Contacted afterward, Mr. Chanrith said Mr. Sophea would not be removed and that the party members were wrong to believe that he had the power to remove and appoint working and support group members.
“Mr. Kong Sophea did not replace them. There were consultations with leaders and with local people, and there was a vote,” he said.
Mr. Sophea agreed that the angry party members were simply misinformed.
“Some people do not understand how the party works, so the top leaders have to explain. Now they understand and have gone back home,” he said. “I have no power to appoint this or that person.”
The party members said they were far from placated, however, and appeared to threaten Mr. Sophea and others.
If the lawmaker was not removed from the working group, Mr. Kunthear said, “there could be violence, there could be revenge.”