More than 2,600 Sam Rainsy Party commune councilors met for a one-day congress Saturday to affirm their party affiliations and prepare for the upcoming district and provincial council elections in May.
SRP President Sam Rainsy said the show of force illustrated that all the SRP council members are behind the party, despite the fact that the opposition party has had 50 members defect to the ruling CPP over the past year.
“I welcome all of the 2,660 SRP council members who were legally selected by the people to join this congress,” he told attendants at the Saturday meeting.
“Fifty SRP members defected to the CPP and they sold their ideals,” Sam Rainsy said, but added the remaining SRP members could not have their support bought out by rival parties.
The party would rework its bylaws, Sam Rainsy said, before the council election May 17 where new district, provincial and municipal councilors will be chosen directly by the commune councilors.
“We have to reform the internal rule and constitution according to the situation in Cambodia,” he said, without offering specifics on the changes.
SRP Deputy President Kong Korm accused the CPP of attempting to break the party’s newly formed alliance with the Human Rights Party—the so-called Democratic Movement for Change.
“The CPP, the ruling party wants to take all the power, and I think that democracy, human rights and poverty in Cambodia will get worse,” he said Saturday.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap once again denied the CPP paid SRP’s members to change party affiliations. He said the members left simply because they wanted to join the CPP.
“We did not buy the SRP members, and they decided to join with us,” he said Sunday by telephone.
Cheam Yeap noted that there are nearly 8,000 commune council members from the CPP who will participate in the May elections.
“We will compete during the election, and the CPP is not afraid of the Democratic Movement for Change coalition,” he said.