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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Hun Sen: “If the SRP cannot exterminate the CPP, it will disappear by itself”

Thursday, April 5, 2007
By Leang Delux
Cambodge Soir

Unofficial translation from French by Tola Ek

Click here to read Cambodge Soir’s original article in French

Prime Minister Hun Sen does not want to start a new chapter of his history by initiating a collaboration with the Sam Rainsy Party. Hun Sen let Sam rainsy know that by camping on his opposition position, he will remain there “for life,” just like Le Pen does in France.

Hun Sen took care of his business with Sam Rainsy. During the inauguration of the end of the renovation work for a street in Kompong Som, the prime minister lambasted his main political opponent in a long speech. “Le Pen who leads an opposition party in France, remains his entire life long in the opposition. He is now close to 80-year –old, and he is the oldest candidate to the [French] presidential election. His career is also reduced to the opposition, one remains in there for life. [Sam Rainsy] already insisted on the condition that I am not part of the government for his entry into the government. It was ‘you without me or me without you’. Now, it is us [the CPP]!” Nevertheless, he toned down his rhetoric by adding that “nevertheless, we are not refusing anybody, we are not considering this or that party as our enemy, unless that party considers our party as its black sheep.” He then went on the attack again by declaring that: “if the SRP cannot exterminate the CPP, it will disappear by itself.”

“Nobody is Hun Sen’s enemy, except for the Khmer Rouge. Now, ‘at the end, the entire Khmer Rouge order was toppled. Pol Pot, Son Sen and Ta Mok are dead and the others will face justice!” Hun Sen then said: “By saying this, I don’t mean to say that I am asking the opposition to stop its activities. But, I’m saying that it could do more so that people would say that Cambodia is democratic.” He then launched an appeal to the members of the commune councils in the country to work “together” even if they belong to different political parties because the “commune councils should not look like the National Assembly.” “At the top level (the National Assembly), there is an opposition [party] but this should not be at the commune level.”

No to discussions

Referring to Sam Rainsy’s remarks, who said on Monday that he would be open to a collaboration with the ruling party, Hun Sen said that “according to what he learned,” some people wanted to hold discussions with the CPP. “And I answered that it was useless because we have from our legal basis, the right to manage of the communes. If they have issues they want to raise, then they should bring them to the attention of the Ministry of Interior. By refusing to accept them, I do not refuse all sorts of negotiations, but we are not going to have a remake of the decentralization when a law which is welcomed by everybody already exists!” Pursuing his thought, Hun Sen said that he believes that “wanting to meet the CPP is only a pretext to meet its leaders in order to assure a spot in the next government. “Don’t forget that Hun Sen is part of the group of people who decide the strategy. Therefore, don’t try to create a discord in the CPP-Funcinpec relationships.”

Cooperation at the local level?

Contacted yesterday, Sam Rainsy explained that he never thought about cooperating with the CPP in the government, he said that he was only defending the idea of cooperation between the two parties at the commune council level. “We are not yet at the general election!” he added. “If I said that our two parties must cooperate to support the decentralization and the local development, that’s because I am a responsible leader. Nevertheless, if needed, when problems occur between our members and those of the CPP, I will go meet Sar Kheng [the co-Minister of Interior]. If he [Hun Sen] rejects all cooperation, that means that he lacks the sense of responsibility,” he said.

Hun Sen also replied to the criticisms which traditionally come from the SRP during the election campaign, especially regarding vote buying by the CPP through large distributions of gifts. Indeed, Sam Rainsy used to tell his compatriots that the gifts only last a while, whereas democracy is a gain for life. Hun Sen retorted back at this argument. “They [SRP] also distribute gifts: vitamins, and this didn’t stop them from criticizing us. Under the Khmer Rouge, there were ‘Aspirin’ groups (groups distributing Aspirin to people), today, the country has its ‘vitamins’ groups! Furthermore, a gift, even though lasting only ‘one day,’ can always help provide a better life. Take for example the case of a blaze. Wouldn’t rice and tent donations be beneficial to the victims? How about the tailoring school that my wife set up for underprivileged girls, and where 1,000 students are graduating from every trimester, isn’t this gift beneficial?”

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