Hun Sen Invites More Defectors To Join CPP

In the latest of a series of recent pre-election maneuvers, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced Monday that the CPP will welcome defectors from all other political parties, and speculated that more de­fections would follow.

His comments came after three high-profile lawmakers defected in the last week from Funcinpec and the SRP.

The three would not be the last, Hun Sen said, adding that other Fun­cinpec ministers and secretaries of state, who he did not name, would also be joining the CPP.

“Anyone who comes we will take,” Hun Sen said during a school inauguration ceremony in Kom­pong Speu province.

“It is the time for [politicians] to re­shuffle and move to other parties,” Hun Sen added.

He asked parties who lost members to his CPP to respect their rights and urged them not to take revenge.

“This is a political right,” Hun Sen said.

According to Hun Sen, many SRP members at the grassroots level were changing their allegiances to the CPP and the Human Rights Party.

“None of the CPP members de­fect, but we welcome everyone to join in helping us develop the country,” he said. “We will regard them as our body and blood.”

Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay said members of his party had the right to decide for themselves if they wanted to go elsewhere.

“We don’t take revenge on anyone,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said. “I just heard [that ministers and secretaries of state plan to defect] but I am not interested in that,” he added.

“The real Funcinpec will stay. The defections actually help us.”

SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said his party’s members were similarly free to choose another party if they wanted, but noted that the SRP’s vote tally was far greater than its number of registered members.

“In the commune elections the SRP received 1.3 million votes compared to 700,000 [SRP] members,” Eng Chhay Eang said, adding that SRP members might join the CPP but only to receive gifts.

Committee for Free and Fair Elections Director Koul Panha said that though it was easy for an individual politician to switch party allegiances, grassroots voters would not necessarily follow suit.

“In democratic countries, voters will question the ethics of a politician who changes party,” Koul Panha added.

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