Grassroots Democracy Party to Hold Its Inaugural Congress

The Grassroots Democracy Party (GDP), the creation of political analyst and “Khmer for Khmer” advocacy group founder Kem Ley, will hold its inaugural congress on Sunday and register as a party on Monday, Mr. Ley said Tuesday.

Mr. Ley launched “Khmer for Khmer” in October with the aim of establishing micro-parties in communes around the country to counter the top-down approach employed by the ruling CPP and opposition CNRP.

He has been accused of seeking to steal opposition votes amid the CNRP’s successes since its creation in July 2012, but said Tuesday that the GDP’s direction would be decided only by the members of the micro-parties.

“On August 2, the ten successful pilot communes will come together to adopt a structure and policies, and prepare everything, and then on August 3, they will go to the Ministry of Interior for registration,” Mr. Ley said.

“The difference from the other parties is it is not just a few people creating the party. It will be all the people coming up with the core strategies, before later discussing national policies. Secondly, it will have intra-party democracy.”

Mr. Ley said that despite organizing the inaugural congress, both he and fellow “Khmer for Khmer” leader Yang Saing Koma, the head of agricultural NGO Cedac, would not attend the event in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Sunday.

“We are different from the CPP and CNRP because it will be the members who come on August 2 and vote for their leaders, committee members and the chairman. Yang Saing Koma and I have designed this, but we move away from it,” he said.

“Our mission has finished right now,” he added, explaining that he had spent only about $1,000 on the project, with party members themselves raising $10,000 in funds.

“I am very happy with this pilot project because we spent a very small amount of money but we have got a big result. If it was an NGO doing this, they would have taken three years doing this and spent maybe $200,000,” he said.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the government welcomed the establishment of the GDP.

“This is good for him. We are looking for a diversity of parties as part of political pluralism,” Mr. Siphan said.

“It will make the state of democracy brighter, and the government will work harder and smarter to win support from the people.”

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