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Party Founded By Slain Gov’t Critic Pledges to Contest Elections

Yang Saing Koma, program director of the Grassroots Democratic Party, speaks on the one year anniversary of the party in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, August 02, 2016. ( Leng Len/VOA Khmer)

The Grassroots Democratic Party claims to have 2,000 members, many of whom are drawn from local non-governmental groups.

Yang Saing Koma, a director of the Grassroots Democracy Party that was co-founded by the late political analyst Kem Ley, is determined to continue what the slain campaigner began.

Ley was fatally shot on the morning of July 10 at a convenience store in Phnom Penh where he regularly went for his morning coffee.

On Tuesday, the party he helped launch, the GDP, commemorated its first anniversary at its Phnom Penh headquarters.

Party leaders used the occasion to call on people to stop using Ley’s death to further their political agendas.

Speaking to some 2200 GDP supporters, Saing Koma also said the party needed to create a “unique” policy platform in order to win seats at the next election.

“[W]e need to have a clear policy. I would like to seek the end of the blame game among fellow politicians. I would like to end it. What are you thinking? One of us is gone, what are you going to do now?” he asked.

“Kem Ley is considered our founding father; I am saying that he is a part of the Grassroots Democratic Party’s creation… it is because we shared ideas, discussed and initiated the idea of the party formation. And now the father has gone,” he added.

The GDP claims to have 2,000 members, many of whom are drawn from local non-governmental groups.

Dom Dorn, a GDP supporter from Kampong Speu province, said he had been devastated by the news of Ley’s death.

“I was so sad to lose him. I used to sit and discuss issues and develop policy with him when he was alive. I went to his funeral and the procession to his homeland on his last day,” he said.

“Despite losing him I won’t stop. I will wipe my tears and continue the journey, as he told us to.”