October 22, 2018

PM says no more negotiations

Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy stand on the steps of the National Assembly in 2014 after a meeting. Heng Chivoan

Niem Chheng | The Phnom Penh Post
Publication date 22 October 2018 | 08:16 ICT

Prime Minister Hun Sen renewed his vow over the weekend not to negotiate with former opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

Hun Sen reiterated that he would hold direct talks with the international community over political issues in the Kingdom.

The remarks were made in response to Rainsy, the Cambodia National Rescue Movement (CNRM) president, who previously pledged not to negotiate with the ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) for a political compromise.

Sam Rainsy said he would rather let the government face off directly with the international community.

During Sunday’s meeting with Cambodian students studying in Istanbul, Turkey, Hun Sen said the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), would not be able to enter the political arena until the next general elections.

“Don’t even hope that your parliamentarians, commune chiefs and commune council members will be able to work again. Wait until 2022 for the commune elections and 2023 for the national elections. And don’t expect that [international] pressure can force Hun Sen to rearrange the elections."

“Until now, even the giants cannot block the way,” he said, apparently referring to the US and some Western countries which had derided the elections as unfree and unfair.

In a separate meeting in Brussels, Belgium, with about 100 Cambodian supporters living in Europe on Saturday, the prime minister claimed Rainsy had sent him requests through WhatsApp for negotiations to be mediated by the Japanese government.

“This person [Rainsy] said: “Do not negotiate with this gangster [Hun Sen], do not negotiate with Hun Sen’s government”. You texted me via WhatsApp about asking Japan to coordinate a negotiation. Why do you forget that so soon? You often texted me via WhatsApp. Why do you forget that so soon?.

‘I will cut my hands off’

“You should not request a negotiation anymore. If you ask for a negotiation again, the lightning will strike you. When you ask for a negotiation but I reject, they say I lack [political] will. Now you declare you will not negotiate with Hun Sen, that’s good for me . . . You block your own way so you are finished."

“Don’t turn to me [for negotiations] again. I’ve already declared that if I forgive you for the third time, I will cut my hands off,” he said.

Hun Sen said he will hold direct talks with foreign powers over political issues in the Kingdom.

Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath said while it is true that the government is in a position to negotiate with the international community, the final decision to reach a compromise rests with none other than Cambodian politicians.

“In fact, it is right for the prime minister to put effort into negotiating with the international community. But I believe that eventually only Cambodian [politicians] themselves can end up striking out a compromise through negotiations."

“When there are agreements with the international community, they will delegate the tasks to Cambodian politicians to wrap up negotiations anyway,” he said.

“They cannot decide on the tasks on behalf of Cambodians, so in my opinion, I still believe negotiations between Cambodian [politicians] is very important. If we are united, we’ll achieve real and long-lasting peace,” he said.

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