sisophon, Banteay Meanchey – Ieng Mouly and his Buddhist Liberal Party kicked off their campaign in the northwest last week with a pledge to explain why former members of the resistance work with rather than against the Phnom Penh government.
“I’m very optimistic in this area,” Ieng Mouly, the nation’s information minister, said last Sunday, after unveiling a new provincial party office here.
The region was a stronghold for Ieng Mouly and his supporters, former members of the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front, during the resistance years of the 1980s. The front later became the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party, but Ieng Mouly split from BLDP founder Son Sann in 1995.
Ieng Mouly’s faction recently won an Appeals Court ruling granting him sole use of the party name and logo, but he chose instead to use the Buddhist Liberal Party monicker. The party is allied with Second Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian People’s Party.
Son Sann and his supporters, meanwhile, make up the pro-Funcinpec Son Sann Party.
“We have to explain why the split happened,” Ieng Mouly said, explaining party strategy. “They stand for the opposition. We stand for the government.”
That doesn’t mean his party completely supports the government, he said, “but we want to push for national reconciliation.”
“There are two ways to build democracy,” Ieng Mouly added. “The first way is to fight against the people who control the government. The second strategy is to make friends and work on strategy with them.”
He said the party will open offices in every district, with a bureau in each commune and a representative in each village. The party has already opened offices in five other provinces.
A unified BLDP won 10 seats in the National Assembly in 1993’s UN-sponsored elections. Ieng Mouly and four other lawmakers are in the Buddhist Liberal Party.