Former CPP lawmaker Chea Chamroeun called a press conference on Wednesday to declare his plans to officially form his own political party—less than a week after he announced his resignation from the ruling party.
Mr. Chamroeun made the announcement at Phnom Penh’s Sunway Hotel, six days after posting on his personal Facebook page, which has more than 400,000 “likes,” that he had decided to quit the CPP to “do something to help society.”
“We decided to form the Cambodian Liberty Party in an attempt to extend and strengthen—as well as to protect—democracy, liberty, justice and happiness for people in the whole country,” he told reporters.
Mr. Chamroeun, who has also served as a member of the National Election Committee and as an adviser to National Assembly President Heng Samrin—added that he would register his nascent party, which he said was established with personal funds, with the Interior Ministry on December 25. His would be the fifth new party created this year.
Responding to questions from reporters, Mr. Chamroeun defended the party’s creation, saying it was formed as a reaction to the “injustices” he and others had faced, and not as a ruling party front.
“I wish to swear that the new party is formed not to split up the seats from the Cambodia National Rescue Party or serve the Cambodian People’s Party,” he said. “It is my own idea to preserve the country because people are now living with social injustice.”
“Some judicial officials use the court procedure to badly treat our people,” he continued, going on to state that he had personally faced “many injustices.”
“I had a school but I recently transferred it to someone else because the court ruled against me and I lost a lawsuit,” he said.
Contacted by telephone later in the day, Mr. Chamroeun said he was referring to his eponymous Chamroeun University of Poly-Technology in Phnom Penh, which he lost after it fell into debt.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said on Wednesday that like any other Cambodian citizen, Mr. Chamroeun had the right to start his own political party.
“The government is very open to [others] running political parties,” Mr. Eysan said.
Asked about the timing of Mr. Chamroeun’s resignation and the launch of his new party, Mr. Eysan said he found it neither “strange” nor “surprising.”
“I wish to state that the launching of Excellency Chea Chamroeun’s political party does not involve the CPP and anyone accusing the new party of being linked to the CPP is incorrect,” he said.
Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said it was too early to tell whether Mr. Chamroeun and his party stood any chance of electoral success.
“We will see with time because it is too early to make any judgments about his energy, his capacity to do party building,” Mr. Panha said.
“Before he was just a senior member of the ruling party,” he added. “In the ruling party, they rarely allow their members to have to their own independent opinion.”
(Additional reporting by Anthony Jensen)
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