Phnom Penh Monday, 24 January 2011
Sam Rainsy party supporters greet onlookers at a busy market during an election rally in the capital Phnom Penh, in 2008.
"The rotation agreement would need to be honored, to avoid internal party conflict in the upcoming 2013 parliamentary election."
The Sam Rainsy Party is preparing for a repositioning of National Assembly seats for its lawmakers, halfway through the election cycle.
The opposition party’s vice president, Kong Korm, is returning from a two-day party meeting that ended in Manila Sunday, where exiled party president, Sam Rainsy, issued instructions for the rotation, officials said Monday.
The party holds 26 legislative seats in the National Assembly, and party officials say the replacement of party members to different seats will strengthen the party’s chances in upcoming elections.
The rotation is in response to a reminder from eight steering committee members reminding the president of the rotation.
Kong Korm, who is the acting party president while the president remains abroad, “will directly meet with you all to confirm and explain the decision of the party,” Sam Rainsy wrote.
Noun Vuthy, a member of the steering committee, confirmed the decision, which will be implemented in March.
The rotation of all 26 seats is determined by the amount of money candidates paid during the election campaign in 2008. The first five candidates for each province paid $24,000 in campaign funding, while the next four each paid $22,000.
The rotation will switch out the top-tier candidates for the second-tier candidates.
Am Sam Ath, head of investigation for the rights group Licadho, said the rotation would change up party experience and policy. The rotation agreement would need to be honored, he said, to avoid internal party conflict in the upcoming 2013 parliamentary election.
But the rotation could also cause problems in parliamentary coherency, he said.
Meanwhile, the party will have to prepare for 2012 commune council elections, as Sam Rainsy remains in exile to avoid criminal charges he has decried as politically motivated.