Last Love Party Leader Gives In, Will Be ‘Ordinary Farmer’

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Cambodian National Love Party official Siev Visoth says he is returning to farming. (Siev Visoth’s Facebook page)
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The last remaining member of the Cambodian National Love Party leadership has decided to abandon his decadelong political career and become a farmer and raise ducks after failing to keep the party going.

Siev Visoth, party treasurer and final permanent committee member, told VOD on Thursday that he is leaving the party after the Interior Ministry rejected his application to become acting president and told him he was not allowed to lead an extraordinary congress to bring in new leadership.

The decision comes after turbulent weeks for the Love Party when the president and other top officials took jobs at the Telecommunications Ministry and told supporters to shift their allegiances to the ruling party.

“We have gone through all procedures with the Interior Ministry, and our party cannot remain viable,” Visoth said. “When the others resigned, I alone can no longer meet the quorum to lead and work on this.”

He accepted that his party had erred in drafting bylaws that caused the current deadlock, and he had tried all his means to break it but could not.

Only government leniency and compromise would allow the party to function again, he said.

“If we look into the party [structure], sole power was given to the permanent committee, while other parties’ bylaws also give power to the board of directors.”

Having spent more than 10 years in politics, Visoth felt his departure was regrettable as he had tried to keep alive the spirit of the opposition CNRP. But he has to respect the law and he will take a break, he said.

“I have fulfilled the work the best I can, and I will take rest for a while to look after my health and take time to raise ducks again as an ordinary farmer.”

Pov Chanveasna, a second deputy commune chief for the Love Party in Kampong Cham’s Taing Kraing commune, said he had heard about Visoth’s announcement. It was unfortunate, but he would continue to serve with the remaining members, Chanveasna said.

“I feel disappointed because he, as a representative, burned down his own house,” he said. “We built our own house but then burned down our own house. Where will we go to live?”

Chanveasna added that he did not know whether his position would be affected by the party leaders’ decisions.

Lawyer Pheng Heng said he had never seen such a case before, and he suggested that Visoth write to the ministry to try to negotiate a way out.

Heng agreed that based on the party bylaws, it seemed that without the eight top officials of the Love Party, the permanent committee would fall short of a quorum, leaving the party unable to make decisions. The bylaws should have been written more carefully, he said.

Heng added that even if Visoth wanted to ask the Supreme Court to dissolve the party he had no right to do so as he was not acting president.

Dissolving the party may not be possible unless the Interior Ministry moves first.

Chhim Kan, director of the Interior Ministry’s political parties department, said a formal written request would need to be made for a dissolution.

“We will not interfere in any party’s internal affairs,” Kan said.

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