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Brother of HRP President Quits the Party

A senior member of the Human Rights Party and a brother to its leader left the party Thursday, claiming its position to boycott an upcoming swearing-in ceremony differed from his own views.

Kem Sokhon, the younger brother of Kem Sokha, said Friday he was joining the Cambodian People's Party.

His defection comes one day after Prime Minister Hun Sen warned he would use divide and conquer tactics to weaken the opposition.

In a speech on Wednesday, Hun Sen said he was going to employ "DIFID" strategies, saying in English: "divide, isolate, finish, integration, and destroy and development."

"I left the Human Rights Party to join the CPP, because I'm not satisfied with the Human Rights Party joining the Sam Rainsy Party to boycott the first National Assembly meeting and swearing-in ceremony on Sept. 24," he said. "It opposes my idea."

Kem Sokhon held the deputy secretary-general position and was in charge of the Human Rights Party's election complaints.

The Human Rights Party won three National Assembly seats in July's election, but it has aligned itself with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party in a boycott of 29 lawmakers of the Sept. 24 ceremony, potentially deadlocking the government.

Kem Sokhon has also been a member of Funcinpec, an advisor to the party's secretary-general Nhiek Bunchhay, and a member of the Sam Rainsy Party's steering committee.

He moved to the Human Rights Party when his brother formed it following local commune elections in April 2007.

Kem Sokha said Friday his brother's departure would not change the party's stance to boycott the ceremony.

His brother's leaving also "does not show internal conflict" within the party, he said. "It is his right to choose a political party."