If there’s one thing Khmer Citizen’s Party president Nguon Soeur seems to relish, it’s taking swipes at his former boss.
“On 15 July Sam Rainsy said he would send all the Vietnamese back to their country,” Nguon Soeur told a crowd of supporters at a rally at the Olympic Stadium on Monday. “Then on the 17th, he said the Vietnamese who were here legally did not have to worry…His policy does not stand firm.”
The former Sam Rainsy ally later called the rally “a victory for the party,” even though the crowd numbered perhaps half of his minimum estimate of 3,000 people.
“I gave them no money to return to their homes,” he said after the rally at his office. “They came to support me anyway. Only my party can do this.”
Indeed, this claim was borne out by rally attendees. Chhourn Long, from Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district, said he and about 100 others from his village came “because the president of the KCP is a good man, we are glad to join the KCP.”
Nguon Soeur said he felt the elections are being conducted in a reasonably free and fair manner, and that ballot fraud was impossible. But he said there may be a problem with “small intimidation” from low-level officials who are worried about losing their jobs.
The party president said he counts on 190,000 votes in his native province of Prey Veng and claimed that more than a million Cambodians—nearly 20 percent of the registered voters—would cast ballots for him.
He said he is ready to drop out of politics if his party wins no seats in the National Assembly, but said that is unlikely.
“I will be like the French football team,” he said, referring to its recent darkhorse World Cup victory. “Everyone will be surprised, everyone but me.”
Nguon Soeur, a former Funcinpec and National Police official who joined Sam Rainsy’s Khmer Nation Party in 1995, broke with the KNP a few months later and contested the leadership of the party. He then formed his own party, and made an alliance with the CPP.
Nguon Soeur vehemently denies allegations that the KNP split was engineered by CPP Vice President and Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“After the split I had two ways to choose,” he said, either leaving Cambodia for France or forming his own party. “If I continued to struggle against Rainsy it would bring us both down. The alliance [with CPP] was not agreed to until 9 months after the split.”