Candlelight Party Member’s Arrest Intended to Scare Opposition, Say Critics

The Candlelight Party holds a congress on November 27, announcing it will take part in the 2022 commune election and the 2023 general election. CamboJA/ Khuon Narim

Observers say the jailing of a member of the Candlelight Party in Oddar Meanchey last week is meant to send a chilling message to other opposition politicians looking to run in next year’s local elections.

Kem Sokha’s message shows Rainsy-Sokha split after Candlelight Party congress

Former CNRP president Sam Rainsy (Center Right) and vice president Kem Sokha greet supporters during Rainsy's 2013 homecoming to Phnom Penh. Picture taken July 19, 2013. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang

Former president of the outlawed opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Kem Sokha has put distance between himself and exiled political figure Sam Rainsy, saying the two men “are not the same person”. Sokha pointed to the return of Rainsy’s former Candlelight Party as a sign of the political split between the two opposition leaders.