Kem Sokha Launches Human Rights Party for 2008

Cambodian Center for Human Rights President Kem Sokha on Tuesday submitted a request to the Interior Ministry to register his proposed Human Rights Party to compete in the 2008 national elections.

Kem Sokha, who will be stepping down as president of the CCHR on May 1, announced the name of his nascent political party Wednesday during a farewell party at the CCHR’s Phnom Penh offices.

The former Funcinpec senator said that his party will aim to weed out corrupt officials from the current government, and predicted that the Human Rights Party will win 30 National Assembly seats in next year’s election.

“Our party’s vision is to put real power in the hands of the people to remove government officials if they commit mistakes,” he said by telephone Thursday.

Kem Sokha declined to reveal who will be joining his party, but claimed that it already has 200,000 to 500,000 supporters around the country.

Lay Voharith, director of the political affairs department in the Min­istry of Interior, said that the ministry is processing Kem Sokha’s re­quest and will make a decision after the Khmer New Year.

Kem Sokha said that he is considering aligning with the SRP in its proposed Democratic Move­ment, but that he would not make this decision until his party holds a national congress in July.

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kan­harith said that the CPP would welcome the Human Rights Party.

“Votes for the CPP never de­cline,” he added.

Funcinpec spokesman Nouv So­vathero said that having more parties to compete in the election “is good for democracy.”

Ok Socheat, adviser to Prince Norodom Ranariddh, said that the Human Rights Party does not pose a threat to the Norodom Ranariddh Party. But it could take supporters away from the Democratic Move­ment if it does not join in the all­iance, he added.

“I think we must unite—I will talk to [Kem Sokha],” he said.


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