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Supporters of the Cambodia National Rescue Party hold a poster of Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha during the last day of campaigning for the June 4 commune elections, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 2, 2017 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

Can Cambodia’s Decimated Political Opposition Survive a Leadership Struggle?

Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019

Factional divisions within the banned opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, or CNRP, came to the surface in December, when a party conference in Atlanta named exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy its acting president. The conference was boycotted and its outcome rejected by supporters of Kem Sokha, the CNRP’s erstwhile president who remains under house arrest in Cambodia pending trial on charges of treason. In an email interview with WPR, Astrid Norén-Nilsson, associate senior lecturer at the Center for East and South-East Asian Studies at Lund University, Sweden, discusses the origins of the CNRP leadership dispute, and the implications of the opposition’s internal divisions for Cambodian politics.

World Politics Review: How long has the dispute between Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha been simmering within the CNRP, and what caused it to spill into public view? ...

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