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Minor Political Parties

The minor political parties, such as Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party [HDP], Khmer Democratic Party [KDP], League for Democracy Party [LDP], Khmer Republican Party (KRP) and Society of Justice Party [SJP] have mostly predictable party platforms such as fighting corruption, and promotion of democracy. A common (and popular) platform issue across the five parties is illegal immigration -- during meetings with party representatives, most referred to immigrants from Vietnam as problematic. HDP members believe many parties focus on illegal immigrants from Vietnam because people perceive Vietnamese immigrants as illegally obtaining documents to vote, and that they vote for the ruling CPP. Cambodians worry that Vietnamese people will "take over" Cambodia.

According to the Cambodian election law, political parties must submit to the NEC a list of candidates throughout the country, with a number of candidates that is equal to at least one-third of the seats in the National Assembly -- currently 123 -- plus one alternate candidate for each titular candidate. A candidate list could be as short as 82 names, including alternate candidates. The law requires that all candidates be registered voters. The HDP, KDP, LDP, SJP, and the United People's Party (UPP) each had names on their candidate lists rejected in 2008 by the NEC because the rejected names did not appear on NEC voter registration lists.

The United People's Party [UPP] was not successful in replacing their rejected names and was out of the National Assembly seat running. The UPP had initially submitted 105 candidate names, 25 of which were rejected. The UPP requested permission from the NEC to reduce their total number of candidate names, meaning that they requested not to replace all 25 names on their list.

Among the HDP, KDP, LDP and SJP, only the Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party won a 2007 commune council seat -- a second deputy commune council chief position in Sitoh commune of Kandal province. The HDP was established in 2002 by Hang Dara, a former Royalist and member of the opposition to the Vietnamese occupation after January 1979; he was a FUNCINPEC member from 1993 to 2002. After running for a National Assembly seat under his namesake party in 2003, and losing, he became a Buddhist monk. The party leadership have an estimated 200,000 activists for the party, most in Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Kandal, Prey Veng, and Takeo provinces. They expected they will receive 80,000 votes during the 27 July 2008 elections.

The Khmer Democratic Party won one 2002 commune council position and during the 2007 commune council election won 7,685 votes but not a seat. KDP candidates ran for National Assembly seats in the 1998 and 2003 elections without success. The party focused in Kampong Cham the 2008 election.

The League for Democracy Party is affiliated with a local NGO that runs a radio program called "The Sound of the Bell" that broadcasts the party's political platform. The LDP states that the NGO also conducts public forums two to three times per month during which the party publicizes its proposals, seeks members, and collects donations - the LDP told Emboffs that it collects about USD 200 per public forum. In 2007, LDP candidates ran for commune council positions in 25 communes across six provinces and reportedly received somewhere between 80-100 votes.

The Khmer Republican Party (KRP) is the brainchild of Lon Rith, another Cambodian-American and the son of Lon Nol, the U.S.-backed Cambodian premier in 1970-1975. Lon Rith returned briefly in the fall of 2007 to formally anoint the party, established in 2005, but failed to register as a voter and so cannot run as a candidate in his party. He returned to Cambodia again in June 2008. He finds most of his support among his father's former political base, avid Republicans who had been unhappy with Sihanouk's rule and who have always embraced America. However, having left Cambodia at the age of 12, Lon Rith is a halting Khmer speaker and cannot read Khmer. His public speaking performances do not appear to attract many voters. The KRP seems to be strongest in pockets of Phnom Penh, parts of provinces bordering Vietnam, and Battambang. Lon Rith has expressed strong views against the Vietnamese, but not as stridently as the government under his father, which had devastating results (including massacres of Vietnamese civilian populations during the early 1970's). Lon Rith is also looking for support from Khmer Kampuchea Krom voters.

The Society of Justice Party was established in 2006 years ago by Ban Sophal, a former FUNCINPEC deputy governor of Battambang province where the party believes most of its 7,000-plus supporters reside. The party did not have candidates running in the 2007 commune council election.

The Khmer Anti-Poverty Party (KAPP) was created in 2007 by Daran Kravanh, a Cambodian-American former refugee who did well as an official in the Washington State social welfare agency. He says that he now wants to give back to Cambodia. Kravanh's Khmer Rouge survival story was told in a moving account written by his wife Bree Lafreniere and published by the University of Hawaii Press. In the televised political party round-tables on state-run TVK, Kravanh has shown himself to be an able public speaker who can at least keep a Cambodian audience. His emphasis on rule of law, fighting corruption, and developing Cambodia out of its current level of poverty has registered well with some voters but his voter base is relatively small in Kampong Speu, Pursat, Battambang and Kampong Cham provinces. He worked closely over the years with a group of non-denominational Christian churches in Cambodia and some of these adherents help to cultivate support. In an arrangement with the Social Justice Party, Kravanh has agreed to advocate his voters support SJP in Battambang, while SJP is supposed to push for KAPP's support in provinces like Kampong Speu and Kampong Cham.

The Human Rights Party (HRP) was founded in July 2007 by Kem Sokha, the former president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights and former Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of the National Assembly. In contrast with the other one-man ruled parties, the decision-making process of the HRP is marked by more internal democracy.





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