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CPP Money Bought Opposition ‘Hearts’: Sam Rainsy

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Monday publicly accused the Cambodian People’s Party of using its power and money to buy the hearts of opposition officials, causing them to defect.

The party has lost three parliamentarians, at least 30 steering committee members and hundreds of provincial and municipal supporters in the months leading into July’s elections. Many of them have turned to the ruling CPP.

Meanwhile, those activists who do stay loyal to the opposition face intimidation, Sam Rainsy said, citing the cases of 16 activists who have been threatened.

“The CPP uses all means to attract SRP activists and supporters to leave,” Sam Rainsy said Monday. “But SRP officials and supporters do not fear and are not able to be bought.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen has declared all SRP officials “welcome” to bring their allegiance to the ruling party, “until the election and after the election.”

Defector Leng Seng said former opposition members were leaving the party not because of money but because of “injustice and nepotism.”

Observers say the defections are likely to hurt the party.

“Politicians and supporters are not happy with their party,” Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said.

The Sam Rainsy Party has not been able to solve their problems or deal properly with disputes, he said. “All these push the defections.”