Rainsy Meets Members in Siem Reap Over Provincial Party Chief

In a meeting Thursday in Siem Reap province with about 270 provincial officials and members of the opposition CNRP, party President Sam Rainsy promised to find a “win-win solution” to the members’ demands that the provincial CNRP chief be removed from her post.

On Monday, more than 50 CNRP officials demonstrated outside the party’s Phnom Penh headquarters calling for the ouster of lawmaker and Siem Reap party chief Ke Sovannaroth, who is married to Yim Sovann, chairman of the party’s executive committee.

Kong Soeun, the CNRP’s Siem Reap provincial deputy executive, said earlier this week that the officials were calling for her removal because of her alleged nepotism and “irregular spending,” although he declined to elaborate on the accusation.

On Thursday, Mr. Soeun, who attended the meeting, said Mr. Rainsy and CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha met with about 270 local party members and officials at the Siem Reap headquarters.

“Sam Rainsy discussed the problem,” Mr. Soeun said. “He just went to survey the ideas of both sides, consider them and said he will find a win-win solution for both sides.”

He added that officials who are calling for Ms. Sovannaroth’s dismissal do not wish to harm the party, but just want her to be removed as Siem Reap party chief.

“I think that if Ms. Ke Sovannaroth leaves to work in another province, that will be the win-win solution,” Mr. Soeun said.

Following Thursday’s meeting, Mr. Rainsy said the party would form a committee comprised of a representative of the disgruntled members, a representative of Ms. Sovannaroth and party leaders to investigate the claims of corruption, nepotism and incompetence.

“We are going to make a committee to investigate into the accusations,” he said. “I have to base my judgment on facts.”

But Mr. Rainsy said that even if the party found no wrongdoing on the part of Ms. Sovannaroth, changes were still in order.

“Even if there is no grounds for sanctions, still—for psychological reasons—the leadership must be more inclusive,” he said. “This is the win-win solution.”

However, Chhoun Vithyea, a member of the CNRP’s coordination group in the province’s Kralanh district, said protests would continue until Ms. Sovannaroth is replaced.

“If Ms. Ke Sovannaroth is not removed, we will protest stronger and stronger,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)

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