Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Parties Unclear on Opposition Path

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
06 May 2008
Khmer audio aired May 06 (1.25MB) - Download (MP3)
Khmer audio aired May 06 (1.25MB) - Listen (MP3)

[Editor's note: In the weeks leading into national polls, VOA Khmer will explore a wide number of election issues. The "Election Issues 2008" series will air stories on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a related "Hello VOA" guest on Thursday. This is the first in a two-part series examining the opposition.]

Less than three months from national elections, the opposition is facing some problems, and many Cambodians are wondering what the face of the next opposition will be. No one yet has a good answer.

Officially, the opposition is the Sam Rainsy Party. It has seats in parliament and is not a part of the ruling coalition comprised of the Cambodian People’s Party and Funcinpec.

But last year’s local commune elections saw the rise of two other parties that could vie for seats in parliament this year without taking control of the body: the Human Rights Party, led by Kem Sokha, and the eponymous party of Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

In fact there are more than 50 small parties expected to compete in the July polls. And, given free and fair elections and more than 8 million voters, anything can happen.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer this week the country could see a change in the opposition party. He predicted the new opposition would be the CPP.

Khieu Kanharith, spokesman for the CPP government, said he doubted that would happen.

Meanwhile, no political observers were ready to predict who might take the most opposition seats.

Kek Galabru, founder of the rights group Licadho, said the next opposition, whomever it is, must be strong in human resources and in budget, in order to gain the confidence of the people nationwide.

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