Kem Sokha, Sam Rainsy Take Turns Teasing Ruling Party

CNRP President Kem Sokha suggested on Thursday that the ruling party was scared of the opposition but had nothing to fear from a potential CNRP government, while his exiled predecessor Sam Rainsy said that many voters who preferred CPP commune chiefs to opposition candidates would turn against the ruling party in national elections.

Speaking to supporters in Koh Kong province, Mr. Sokha said—without naming the CPP—that the winners of the June 4 commune elections remained afraid of the opposition’s strength.

Former opposition CNRP leader Sam Rainsy and current CNRP leader Kem Sokha speak at an event last year. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“The winner is not calm,” he said. “They are scared. The winner is scared to lose…. The loser is scared they will be mistreated.”

“So the CNRP’s goal is to win in order to reorganize our country, to allow the winners and losers to have peace,” he added. “There will be no one to mistreat anyone, no detentions, no revenge.”

Mr. Rainsy, who has remained a visible face for the opposition even after legal challenges prompted his February resignation from the CNRP, told supporters in Long Beach, California, that the opposition had the upper hand in national elections.

Some voters liked their local CPP commune chief but not national leaders, he said in a speech on Sunday that was posted to his Facebook page on Wednesday.

“They were the people that they trusted,” he admitted of the CPP candidates. “They know [their constituents] and help them.”

But the national focus of the next vote would cause these voters to change sides and bring in many of the 1 million estimated migrant workers and 700,000 garment workers who had sat out the less important commune vote, Mr. Rainsy said.

“Next year, most Khmer people…will elect a new government, a new prime minister to change the nation,” he said.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan dismissed Mr. Rainsy—who has stayed abroad since November 2015 amid legal challenges widely seen as politically motivated—as an “outcast” who is “dead from politics” and declined to comment on his remarks.

Mr. Sokha’s speech, meanwhile, was “just political rhetoric, propaganda.”

“He is the one who is scared,” Mr. Eysan said.

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