Sam Rainsy Party officials said Tuesday that their party congress, from April 29 to April 30, will go ahead as scheduled, regardless of whether their party president attends.
Doubtful that self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy will return to Cambodia in time for the congress, party spokesman Ung Bun-Ang said the party is considering for the first time using teleconferencing to allow Sam Rainsy to communicate with his supporters.
Sam Rainsy is currently in Europe, officials said, reportedly in France. He fled Cambodia on Feb 3, after the National Assembly stripped him and two other fellow opposition lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity.
The removal of Sam Rainsy’s immunity allows the courts to pursue a defamation suit against him for accusing Assembly and Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh of taking bribes to join in a coalition government with the CPP. Opposition party officials said they did not know when Sam Rainsy would be back.
“Regardless of Sam Rainsy’s physical presence at the congress, we can use modern computer linkup to bring Sam Rainsy from somewhere in Europe to the congress through teleconferencing,” Ung Bun-Ang said.
Sam Rainsy Party Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said the congress will offer a chance for party leaders to discuss restructuring.
“The main agenda of the congress is that we want to strengthen the leadership of the steering committee, decentralize all the power from the central to communal leadership,” Eng Chhay Eang said.
“The party’s strategy will reach out to the grass roots, and we will provide them with more power in decision-making,” he added.
Eng Chhay Eang said the Sam Rainsy Party is active and well unified even without the party leader, who is known to run his party under strict control. He added that Sam Rainsy’s position and his own will be up for re-election in 2006, as the party has determined those positions each have a three-year term.