Sonando Orders Deputies to Settle Feud or Face Expulsion

Mam Sonando, the charismatic radio station owner who revived his Beehive Social Democratic Party (BSDP) earlier this year, said Thursday that if his deputies were not able to settle a public feud amicably, he would fire them both from the party.

Heang Rithy, a vice president of the BSDP, went on Radio Free Asia on Wednesday evening to accuse Harry Sam At, a fellow vice president, of taking about 40 party activists on a trip to Sihanoukville in an attempt to convince them to defect from the party.

Contacted Thursday, Mr. Rithy said the party’s disciplinary committee had decided to dismiss Mr. Sam At for the alleged attempt to persuade activists to join the Khmer Solidarity Party, which was founded earlier this year by ousted CNRP official Lak Sopheap.

But Mr. Sonando said that the decision was not final until he approved it.

“Nobody has been fired,” he said.

“The discipline council made a report that was sent to me with photographs and video clips, but I have not yet approved it,” he added. “I will review it deeply again.”

Mr. Sonando said that regardless of the outcome of the dispute, it was a minor issue and would not disrupt the party’s activities.

“I don’t think it is a big problem because neither Harry nor Heang Rithy get votes from villagers. Villagers vote for Mam Sonando, not them,” he said.

“There are two vice presidents: It always happens that one person wants to be better than the other person,” he added. “Harry said [Mr. Rithy] is not telling the truth.”

Mr. Sam At could not be reached.

Mr. Sonando said that if he did decide to dismiss Mr. Sam At, Mr. Rithy would go with him.

“I don’t know if both vice presidents will continue more activities [with the party] or not because if they continue to have problems and provoke problems in my party, I will decide to part ways rather than argue together,” he said.

“If I dismiss, I will do it to both.”

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