Inviting a television crew into his redoubt within the CNRP’s Phnom Penh headquarters last week, Kem Sokha, the party’s acting president, admitted that he thought the opposition would be better off if its leader, Sam Rainsy, returned to the country.
In the ensuing days, Mr. Sokha’s daughter Kem Monovithya, the party’s deputy head of public affairs, has kept the criticism of Mr. Rainsy coming—via Twitter.
After CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann announced on Monday that imprisoned opposition officials had declined a proposal for Mr. Rainsy to go to jail in exchange for their release, Ms. Monovithya wrote that the move was disingenuous.
“Somebody watches too much movies on their free time. If you respect the audience you at least make your lies sound believable. #insult #sad,” she wrote in a tweet on Tuesday along with a link to a Cambodia Daily article about the proposed prisoner swap.
Responding to an article in The Phnom Penh Post in which Mr. Rainsy criticizes China for encouraging human rights abuses by Cambodia’s government with its no-strings-attached aid and loans, Ms. Monovithya suggested that the comments strayed from the party line.
“Cnrp official stance prioritizes Cambodia’s interests and regional stability. Not erratic positions based on wild theories/one’s moodiness,” she tweeted on Monday along with a link to the Post article, which also noted that the CNRP has often espoused a China-friendly position.
As a member of the CNRP’s standing committee, the party’s top decision-making body, Ms. Monovithya has often said that its success has been built on unity between Mr. Sokha and Mr. Rainsy.
Asked in an online message whether she was worried that Mr. Rainsy was now hurting the CNRP, Ms. Monovithya replied: “the show must go on, it’s just not one about Peter Pan.”
“CNRP’s ultimate goal is to have positive changes here, and that can be achieved by having the right team and the right ideas,” she added, declining to respond to further questions.
In an interview broadcast by Channel News Asia last week, Mr. Sokha for the first time suggested publicly that he did not agree with Mr. Rainsy’s decision to remain in self-imposed exile to avoid a two-year prison sentence.
“If Sam Rainsy came to be with me, it would be better than me being alone,” he said. “But if he does not decide to come back, we can still run the party without him.”
Asked last week about the remarks, Ms. Monovithya said the CNRP was functioning normally without Mr. Rainsy, as it had before the 2013 election.
“Everyone has his/her role to fulfill, the struggle is here, so the more people we have here, the better,” she wrote.
Mr. Rainsy did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. He has previously pledged to return to Cambodia before the 2018 national election, regardless of whether he is facing arrest.
Mu Sochua, the CNRP’s director of public affairs, said it was every member’s right to express their own opinion.
“We are a democratic party,” Ms. Sochua said. “She has her own opinions. I have my own opinions. But the policy of the party is strategic.”
© 2016, Colin Meyn. All rights reserved.