SRP’s Extra-ordinary Congress
This morning, I was invited, in my capacity as Program Manager of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, to participate in this party congress. The objectives of the congress are to elect the new party president replacing Mr. Sam Rainsy, who will leave the SRP to head the newly founded Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP); to formally acknowledge Mr. Sam Rainsy as “Supreme Advisor”, and to amend article 50 of the by-law (name and logo of the SRP could not be changed, Sam Rainsy is the Supreme Advisor and he will be automatically restored as President in case he is not involved in other political parties) .
It is estimated that around 2,000 members from all provinces in Cambodia participated in this special event. It is also to mark the 17th Anniversary of the SRP. The SRP was founded on 02 November 1995 with the former name as “Khmer Nation Party, KNP”. Mr. Sam Rainsy was a clean Finance Minister between 1993-1994, before he was then sacked from Funcinpec, by corrupted leaders. He later founded his own party. Guests of honor were two representatives from the Japanese and Singaporean Embassies; representatives of IRI, NDI, KAS, FNF and some other NGOs. Mr. Kem Sokha, President and other high ranking officials of the HRP (including some former expelled MPs from the SRP), were also among honorable guests. Mr. Sam Rainsy gave an opening speech via Video Conference from Carolina, the US.
The main results are as follows:
– Mr. Kong Korm, SRP Deputy and Acting President, was elected to become SRP President;
– Mrs. Tioulong Samura, MP, was elected as Deputy President; and
– Mr. Sam Rainsy was named as “Supreme Advisor” to the party with the utmost right to become automatically President of the SRP, in case he is not involved in other political parties. The third objective is extremely important for Sam Rainsy to make sure, that the “party’s coup” could be avoided.
Mr. Kem Sokha gave a short speech reassuring the firm commitment of the two parties in building up the CNRP for the upcoming 2013 election. It is important to note that the SRP will exist at least till 2017, so that their elected representatives at the Senate, communes, districts, provinces, municipalities could hold their positions, according to the law. The CNRP is registered in the MOI on 28 September 2012, with Sam Rainsy as President and Kem Sokha as Deputy President, respectively. The congress started at 8am and ended at around 11am.
The Sam Rainsy Party is the main opposition party, the second political force, in Cambodia. Since its foundation as Khmer Nation Party, it has gone through all kind of political pressure, including using violence against its President and its activists. So far, 80 party activists were killed. The deadliest one was the grenade attacks in front of the old Parliament’s Building on March 30, 1997; which caused 16 deaths and more than one hundred wounded, including a representative of the IRI. Mr. Sam Rainsy escaped narrowly thanks to his bodyguard, who lost his life to protect him. The party has now 11 Senators, 26 MPs, 2,155 commune councilors and more than 600 councilors at the districts, provinces, and cities across Cambodia. It has also party structure down to the village level. It contributed to the culture of peaceful protests, culture of debates in the parliament, the culture of Q&A and some times the culture of personal confrontation, instead of programmatic solutions. A strong CNRP would really challenge the ruling party to accept adequate democratic games in the long run.