Two well-known unionists and a prominent rights worker have moved to dispel rumors that they plan to join a new political party to be headed by Cambodian Center for Human Rights President Kem Sokha.
Since Kem Sokha announced March 11 that he would quit the CCHR to form a party, Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association President Rong Chhun, Kek Galabru, president of Licadho, and Free Trade Union President Chea Mony have fielded queries about whether they would join, they said.
Kek Galabru said Thursday that she was “100 percent” certain she would not take part in it, while Chea Mony said, “I am a union leader—I am not involved with politicians.”
Rong Chhun said his participation in the 16-day march for freedom of expression led by Kem Sokha earlier this month was not a sign that he would support Kem Sokha’s party. “I don’t serve any political parties, I am independent,” he said.
Rong Chhun added that Kem Sokha had asked for his participation, but he declined. Rong Chhun and Kek Galabru said the creation of a new opposition party would splinter the opposition vote.
Opposition parties including Kem Sokha’s should, Kek Galabru said, “work together to form an alliance for the election, to avoid votes from splitting.”
Kem Sokha said he has not directly asked either Rong Chhun, Kek Galabru or Chea Mony to join his party, saying he had issued a more general call for “everybody in the public” to join him.
He added that it was appropriate for some NGO leaders to remain independent and that he would reach out to them in the future.
“Even if they don’t join my party, we have the same objectives and goals,” Kem Sokha added. “If I win, I will invite them to take positions in the government because they are good people.”
Kem Sokha said other NGO leaders and human rights workers would be joining his party, but declined to name them to avoid compromising their current positions.