Sam Rainsy Party Accuses Program of Sabotage

The Sam Rainsy Party accused a UN-funded education program of “cheap tricks” after it canceled the party’s arrangements to hold a forum at a Takeo province hall on Sunday, according to a statement.

Sam Rainsy lawmaker Kuoy Bun­roeun accused the Takeo of­fice of the Seila Program—a na­tional education program funded by the UN Development Fund—of caving into CPP pressure to prevent activists from attending.

“I think they want to disturb us from educating activists. This is a kind of discrimination against the Sam Rainsy Party, because until now the Seila Program had rented out the hall to [many] other NGOs,” he said.

Kuoy Bunroeun said that the for­um on internal party reform, or­gan­ized by the US-based National Democratic Institute and attended by some 140 Sam Rainsy Party ac­tivists, went ahead as scheduled, al­­beit at a Takeo municipal park.

NDI Senior Program Manager Dominic Cardi said Sunday that the booking was canceled Satur­day night, with Seila Program rep­re­sentatives citing the absence of a written contract.

But Cardi said that a verbal agreement to hire the hall was ar­ranged weeks in advance and that his staff had been given access to the hall a day earlier to store documents and office property. “[A]t about 9 pm they passed on the mes­sage to us that the event was off,” he said. “But the Takeo mu­ni­ci­pality allowed us to hold it in a park even though we didn’t have a permit.”

Cardi also accused the hall’s dir­ec­tor, Seila Program Deputy prov­in­cial Administrator Touth Phent, of holding NDI property hostage Sunday in an attempt to sabotage the forum. “They locked all the doors and held all our stuff. The dir­ector re­fused to ans­wer his phone. [Their ac­tions] are politically suspect,” he said.

Cardi said the NDI would lodge a complaint with the Seila Pro­gram and expects an investigation in­to the matter.

Takeo province’s Koh Andet dis­­trict governor, Sam San, confirmed that the Seila Program canceled the booking, but referred all questions to the Seila Program.

Touth Phent could not be reached for comment Sunday.


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