PHNOM PENH —
Sam Rainsy, the head of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, has posted a message to supporters on Facebook, claiming his party hopes to win local elections in 2017 and national elections the following year.
The video comes amid the celebration of Pchum Ben, an annual holiday to honor the dead. In the 50-second clip, Sam Rainsy says the Rescue Party’s non-violent methods have been effective in galvanizing those who have suffered injustice under the current regime.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, meanwhile, in a speech in September, repeated his own expectations for victory. “I will win again, to be the prime minister after 2018, and 2023,” he said. “Wait to win until the next life. Hun Sen will be elected. What will you do with Hun Sen? If people vote for me, I will continue my work.”
Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party won 68 seats in the 2013 election, compared to the opposition’s 55. Rescue Party officials say they hope to win more in the next election.
“An analysis from each party claiming victory is one thing,” said Rescue Party spokesman Yem Ponhearith. “But we should look at the obvious situation in society and the in the hearts of the people.”
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan could not be reached for comment Monday.
Meanwhile, Kem Sokha, vice president of the Rescue Party, has begun admonishing party supporters to spend less time criticizing the ruling party and more time organizing for the impending commune elections, in 2017.
However, some political observers say that if the opposition lessens its criticism of the CPP, it could lose support, especially with at least 10 opposition activists will in jail.