Opposition Campaigns, Claiming Secret CPP Defections

Opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha again divided campaigning responsibilities for the May 18 council elections Monday, with Mr. Rainsy touring parts of Kratie province in the morning and Mr. Sokha leading supporters in a march through Phnom Penh in the evening.

In a meeting Monday morning with his party’s commune councilors in Kratie province, Mr. Rainsy reiterated the themes he and Mr. Sokha had raised in Kompong Cham, threatening that the ruling party’s own commune councilors will vote against it in the May 18 district, city and provincial council elections.

“There is an important and clear change in the commune council members from the CPP, and the CPP is scared,” Mr. Rainsy said.

Only commune councilors can vote in the May 18 ballot.

Mr. Rainsy also drew on the same themes of border encroachment and illegal immigration he and Mr. Sokha had raised on Sunday.

“In Snuol district, the yuon moved the border markers 10 km, and that’s not unusual,” he said, using a term for Vietnamese that can be derogatory.

“In Kratie, they moved it 10 km because it is forest and mountains and there are no people. Therefore they keep pushing it closer, and our leaders pull back and let the yuon flow in freely,” Mr. Rainsy said.

Mr. Rainsy later returned to Phnom Penh, from where he and Mr. Sokha will tomorrow depart for more campaigning in the western provinces, starting in Kompong Chhnang.

In Phnom Penh, Mr. Sokha on Monday belatedly joined the party’s third campaign march through the city, which had once again been started by CNRP executive committee chairman Yim Sovann.

Mr. Sokha also predicted secret ruling party defections to the opposition that would help the CNRP come May 18.

“Tuol Kok is the home of the top leaders of the CPP, but we saw the people open their doors to congratulate the CNRP,” Mr. Sokha said.

National Election Committee secretary-general Tep Nytha also said Monday that the CNRP’s campaigning was now condoned, after suggestions from authorities last week that campaigning would not be allowed.

“Previously, City Hall requested the election committee to cut down election campaign to only have rallies at party offices,” he explained.

“Then the [opposition] party agreed it would not turn the election campaign into something else…such as incitement or demonstrations.”

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