Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) acting president Sam Rainsy’s recent call for internal unity has confirmed the split within the former opposition party, said Kin Phea, the director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia.
Rainsy on Monday wrote an open letter appealing to all CNRP supporters to remain united and stay committed to enacting change in the Kingdom through democratic means.
In a three-point appeal, Rainsy said he would maintain communication with all the party supporters – whether big or small, private or public – especially those who share the same “pro-democracy” beliefs as him and support the slogan, “Sam Rainsy, Kem Sokha are one”.
“I appeal to all CNRP supporters to work together, if possible, to strengthen our party’s unity because it is a necessary condition in moving our party forward and leading the country in the near future,” he said.
Former CNRP lawmaker for Takeo province Ou Chanrath said Rainsy’s appeal has come “a little too late” because the party has been long divided. He said Rainsy’s failed attempt to return on November 9, last year, made local CNRP officials flee to Thailand.
He said the officials are now losing their spirit and had no notion of what to do next.
“I had imagined this scenario since last year when the officials fled to Thailand. They cannot rely on the support of Cambodians living abroad and some NGOs because hundreds of them are living in hiding. They can do nothing but wait for support from the outside.
“His appeal [for unity] has arrived too late. I don’t know if he had known about the divide for a long time or whether he just woke up one morning and appealed for unity.
“The divide stems from those whose loyalty belongs to Kem Sokha and others who are loyal to Rainsy. They had been fighting each other for a long time, not just now. The split has worsened and has further divided the party. Yet he’s only appealing now,” said Chanrath.
Phea said: “If we look at the whole picture, the CNRP has been broken into four pieces. The first piece represents those who are loyal to Sokha, the second are those who answer to Rainsy, the third had formed other parties while the last had joined other parties.
“This doesn’t include those who have yet to decide on their loyalty.”
Phea said the break had been caused by Rainsy’s activities and political strategy.