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Scores of Opposition Seek Defection

At least 77 opposition members and activists from one commune in Preah Vihear province have requested to move to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, officials said Monday.

“This is true information because the list is in my hands,” said Yan Ran, governor of Preah Vihear’s Kulen district, where Sam Rainsy Party members of Tbeng Pi commune have requested the switch.

The members will be granted CPP admission May 25, he said.

CPP first deputy chief of the commune, Prum Khet, said at least 28 members, led by former SRP commune deputy chief So Huon, have been issued ruling party membership cards.

So Huon and other reported defectors were not immediately available for comment.

Long Ry, an SRP official in charge of Preah Vihear affairs, said the defections, if true, could have been coerced.

“If there is such a defection, I think that it would have been a threat against those SRP people, such as threatening them to vote for [the CPP],” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly welcomed defections from the opposition, promising to provide those who change affiliation with positions within the government and ruling party.