Top Sam Rainsy Party Official Quits the Party

One top Sam Rainsy Party official quit the party Monday, saying it is no longer run on democratic principles, while a second has resigned his leadership post be­cause he has become “too busy.”

Party leader Sam Rainsy said he would have no comment on the resignations.

Srun Vong Vannak, a founding member of the party who served on its steering committee, said he was quitting because “the leaders don’t respect democracy. Also, they practice nepotism.”

He said he was particularly un­happy with Sam Rainsy; his wife, Tioulong Samura; the party’s general secretary, Eng Chhay Eang; and parliamentarian Yim Sovann.

“They control the people undemocratically,” he said. “Especially on political issues, but they control everything…. I just resigned for my conscience. The leadership of the party is unacceptable.”

Phi Thach, the party’s chief of cabinet, said he was resigning that post to devote more time to other concerns.

“I still respect and support the party and its president, Sam Rainsy,” he said. “I resigned from the cabinet because I have a lot to do. I will let new people do the cabinet work now.”

Although his ties to the Sam Rainsy Party go back many years, Srun Vong Vannak has changed allegiance before. He was a former CPP police commander when he helped found the Khmer Nation Party—which later became the Sam Rainsy Party—and served as its security chief.

On March 4, 1997, he and two other men were charged with planning the killing of Kov Sa­muth, deputy director of the In­terior Ministry’s economic police and the husband of Prime Mini­ster Hun Sen’s sister.

Sam Rainsy said at the time that Srun Vong Vannak was being framed to punish him for leaving the CPP. He was convicted and served time in prison, only to be pardoned when Sam Rainsy asked King Norodom Sihanouk to intervene.

Srun Vong Vannak said Mon­day that “a number of other leaders” in the party are disaffected “and are about to do something as well. They have lost confidence in the party.”

Eng Chhay Eang said that while Srun Vong Vannak had the right to quit, “it is not a big deal. We are not worried about [the impact on] the coming elections. Our party force still remains strong, especially on the local level.”

Kong Korm, a former CPP foreign minister who now belongs to the Sam Rainsy Party, said he believes disaffection is limited to Srun Vong Vannak “and maybe one or two others.”

“It’s not widespread,” he said. “People aren’t upset about nepotism; they know Sam Rainsy and his wife work very hard together. Vannak was just looking for an excuse.”



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