SRP Member Rumored To Change Sides

Opposition Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang could neither confirm nor deny rumors that Sam Rain­­sy Party lawmaker Keo Remy may defect back to Funcinpec.

National Assembly and Fun­cin­pec President Prince Norodom Ran­­­a­riddh told the royalist party’s con­­gress this week that the party would grow by attracting back de­fectors to other parties. Later on Tues­­day he gave reporters the ex­am­­ple of Keo Remy, who left Fun­cinpec for the opposition in 2003.

Keo Remy could not be reached Thursday and was re­portedly in Singapore for medical treatment.

Opposition lawmaker Yim So­vann said he did not believe the ru­mor and called the prince’s statements “an incitement against the SRP.”

Most of the 30 opposition leaders who attended a meeting this week with exiled opposition leader Sam Rain­sy in Manila returned to Cam­bodia on Wednesday and Thurs­day.

Sam Rainsy praised his colleagues’ management of the party in his absence, and said technology had made it possible.

“With modern communication techniques and appropriate division of labor, distance is not a big hindrance to get the job properly done,” he wrote in an e-mail Wednes­day.

“I was impressed by the high level of dedication, maturity and responsibility of my colleagues, which explains why the party is holding so well without my being present in Cambodia. Actually, the party continues to thrive without me being there,” Sam Rainsy added.

Agreed in Manila was that reform should continue within the opposition including further decentralization of the decision-making process.

“We have seen that, at the country’s level, the current authoritarian drift is possible because the decentralization process—which was supposed to start with the commune council election in 2002—is in fact completely stalled,” Sam Rainsy added. “Empowering grassroots citizens is the most effective way to pre­vent abuses from the authorities and to ensure elections that would re­flect the will of the people.”

Continuing his jet-setting tour of the world while in exile, Sam Rainsy said he was traveling to France on Wednesday night but would be back in Manila for a meeting on Dec 10.

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