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Opposition VP Says Fair Elections Would Mean Wins in 2017, 2018

Cambodian Vice President of the National Assembly Kem Sokha, also vice president of Cambodia National Rescue Party, foreground, delivers a speech during a Buddhist ceremony to mark 18th anniversary in Phnom Penh, file photo.

Kem Sokha, the vice president of the opposition, addressed supporters in Australia last week, claiming that even if “another” party has its own supporters embedded in his party, fair elections in 2018 are what count.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party won 55 of 123 seats in the 2013 election, despite what it said were widespread irregularities and fraud.

Kem Sokha told supporters that if the new National Election Committee formed after the last elections can put together a free and fair local elections in 2017 and national elections in 2018, the Rescue Party is bound to win.

“I am not concerned because there is no market for that political party,” he said, an apparent reference to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. “They can do whatever they want in attracting our supporters. But if what they are doing is with peace, non-violence, conformity, and dignity, we are sure that we will still win.”

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said Kem Sokha appears to be “afraid.” But he said the CPP has a right to conduct a political campaign and to let the voters decide. “The people will believe and decide on any political party that provides the best political programs,” he said.

Kem Ley, a political analyst, said Kem Sokha’s speech could do the party harm, because it does not value his supporters. By assuming they can be tricked, he could “insult the minds of his supporters,” he said. “Those who do politics must generally try to do whatever they can to receive support. The most important is how to make the people believe.”

However, he said the CPP does appear to have resort to its old strategy, arresting opponents and putting them in jail, intimidating them, and passing unnecessary laws.