Officials from the little-known Khmer Republican Party—founded last year by General Lon Nol’s son Lon Rith—have announced their participation in the upcoming national elections, and pledged to focus on dealing with Vietnamese immigrants in Cambodia upon winning, party officials said Feb 22.
Cun Saly, KRP deputy chief of cabinet, said the party officially announced Lon Rith, who currently resides in the US, as their candidate for the prime minister’s position during a Thursday news conference in Phnom Penh. Following the conference, a 14-person delegation left for France to drum up funds and support for the KRP.
He said the KRP’s sole priority upon winning is to deal with Vietnamese illegal aliens.
“The most important thing we will focus on is Vietnamese illegal immigrants. We will do so in accordance with the Constitution,” Cun Saly said, adding that they would also focus on poverty reduction and corruption.
Cun Saly said KRP Vice President John Sunnysock is the only party member allowed to talk to the press, but he was among those who had left for France.
He claimed that the KRP has an in-country staff of 200, and he said he was confident the party would win National Assembly seats come July’s election.
Lon Rith is scheduled to arrive in Cambodia from the US on April 20.
Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the KRP policies were nothing new.
“Most Cambodian people living in the USA do not consider it as a serious [party],” he wrote in an e-mail Feb 22. “The issues raised by this party are not new. All the parties are on the same tune,” he said.
SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said the KRP was not to be taken seriously.
“It is just a joke…. They are not serious in politics,” he said, adding that “if they really want to get involved in politics, there is no need to wait until now.”
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said Lon Rith’s late arrival in April will hinder his ability to garner votes.