Deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha began the new year with a resumption of his countryside campaigning in which he pledged to decentralise the Cambodia National Rescue Party leadership, and expressed commitment to the “culture of dialogue” with the ruling party.
In a meeting yesterday with supporters in Prey Veng province, Sokha said that CNRP members must not rely on marching orders from the party’s top brass, but on activists and leaders at the grassroots level.
“It is not the president Sam Rainsy, the deputy president Kem Sokha, committee presidents or lawmakers who . . . come to tell brothers and sisters to do this, or do that. All leaders must do what the grassroots demand them to do. This is the power of the decentralisation of the CNRP,” he said.
“The government [of the CNRP] is a government that serves citizens. It is not a government that controls and completely mistreats citizens.”
Sokha postponed his usual public forums with voters following political tensions at the end of last year that saw him removed as deputy president of the National Assembly and Sam Rainsy commence another round of self-imposed exile to avoid outstanding warrants for his arrest.
The events, along with the beating of two opposition lawmakers in front of parliament in October, saw critics quick to herald the death of the so-called “culture of dialogue”, the shaky detente between the parties that began with the end of the opposition’s boycott of parliament in July 2014.
However, Sokha yesterday touted the culture of dialogue between the CNRP and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, although he acknowledged it needed to be conducted without fear or intimidation from either side.
“Then we sit down and talk to seek a joint vision to lead the country and serve citizens,” he said.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said yesterday after the annual CPP congress that Sokha’s points were parallel to those raised at the congress.
“The position of the CPP to still be open to the culture of dialogue is the same. During the congress we also had a detailed discussion about the problem of strengthening the culture of dialogue, according to the spirit of the political agreement.”
Eysan added that both parties were planning a joint meeting about the culture of dialogue soon, although he did not confirm any specifics.