PHNOM PENH —
The resignation of Sam Rainsy from the presidency of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party was met with surprise by the international community, political observers and ordinary Cambodians.
His supporters on Monday expressed mixed opinions about his decision.
Prum Sothy, 64, a tuk tuk driver, supported Rainsy’s resignation, claiming he had made the right decision.
“It’s a very good example. A leader who dares to sacrifice himself for the sake of the nation is a good leader. His act would lose him nothing, yet could earn him more support.”
Mao Phat, 69, a retired civil servant, told VOA Khmer that at first he was disappointed by the news, but then he realized that Rainsy’s decision was for the sake of the party.
“Most people misunderstand his decision. But after his explanation, we instead congratulate him for his choice, expecting that the opposition party would be able to compete with the ruling party.”
In late January, Hun Sen began a legal process that could see people convicted of crimes being barred from leading political parties - and see the parties dissolved if they break the rules.
Before his resignation, Rainsy and his party faced a series of political threats, including having the immunity of lawmakers stripped and several lawsuits launched against its leadership.
Chatting over coffee at a café in Phnom Penh, Hul Sovannaroth, 57, said Rainsy’s decision was made due to the political tensions.
“He is a good leader. I’m so sad to hear he left the party. However, if he didn’t leave, his party could be dissolved at any time because he has had so many complaints against him.”
However, others were disappointed with Rainsy’s resignation, leaving them questioning whether they would vote in the forthcoming elections.
Sam Nang, a housewife from Kompong Speu province, said Rainsy should have informed his supporters before he quit.
“I no longer want to vote. It seems like my vote means nothing. Not only me, but also other Cambodians who support him may not want to vote anymore.”