Prominent F’pec Member Defects to Opposition

Mu Sochua, one of Funcinpec’s most outspoken members, officially joined the Sam Rainsy Party on Wednesday, a day after submitting her resignation from the royalist party.

Giving a teary press conference, the former minister of wo­men’s and veterans’ affairs dodged re­porters’ questions as to why she decided to leave Funcinpec, saying only that she felt “concerned about the recent decision-making” of the party.

“I still respect and love Funcin­pec,” she told repor­ters at the Fo­r­eign Correspon­dents Club of Cambodia restaurant. “But I have to leave.” She added: “I never aimed to leave my party but my party has al­ready gone away from me…. I need to develop democracy in Cambodia to be better than to­day.”

Mu Sochua, who has been a royalist member since late 1995, was not voted into the National Assembly during last year’s na­tional election. Nor did she take a position in the new government.

As an executive of Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party’s now defunct Alliance of Democrats, Mu Sochua has kept a low profile since Funcinpec struck a deal to form a coalition government with the CPP.

“I leave with ill will toward no one, and with the hope in my heart that all democrats will one day work together,”  she said.

On Tuesday evening, Funcin­pec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said he was sad that Mu Sochua was defecting, but that members were free to join or leave the royalist party as they pleased.

Later Wednesday, Mu Sochua was welcomed into the Sam Rai­n­sy Party headquarters, where party President Sam Rainsy blasted her former leader and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“Prince Noro­dom Ranariddh is Hun Sen’s subordinate and the CPP is the Viet­namese’s subordinate,” Sam Rainsy said.

Sam Rainsy, who returned to Phnom Penh Wednesday after vi­siting King Norodom Sihanouk in Beijing, told reporters the King will arrive in Cambodia Sept 27 and will stay at his Siem Reap palace.

Commenting on the more than 50 party members who defected to Funcinpec on Tues­day, Sam Rainsy said: “I don’t have any concern or interest for those who have defected.”

Mu Sochua said she did not know whether she would be granted a cabinet position in the opposition party.

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