CNRP Warns Contracts Signed With CPP Could Be Canceled

The opposition CNRP released a letter Tuesday warning investment firms, foreign nations and international institutions that if the party forms a government, it will review and potentially annul any agreement made with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP during the current mandate.

The statement says that any contracts signed by the government in the current mandate are “illegal” as the government was formed in the one-party National Assembly in the wake of the disputed July 28 national election.

“The CNRP does not recognize and will review all contracts grant­ing loans, giving out licenses and investment projects—that is, the buying, selling, swapping or renting of state property—that involve parties and the Cambodian government created by…the National Assembly that opened on September 24,” it says.

The CNRP has claimed since the convening of the National Assembly that the government of Mr. Hun Sen is illegitimate, having been formed in the absence of the opposition’s 55 boycotting lawmakers.

CNRP President Sam Rainsy earlier this month toured Europe and the U.S. urging foreign governments to cease recognition of Cambodia until the CPP government agrees either to an investigation into the election results or to a host of power-sharing deals.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that the opposition’s statement should be considered fair notice by those looking to invest in Cambodia, and that deals made with Mr. Hun Sen’s government could be rescinded.

“We’ve released this statement to warn all the countries not to deal with this government,” he said, explaining that he wasn’t worried by conventions that incoming governments respect the debts that they inherit.

“International law has to respect the law of this country and the will of people, and also international law requires a legitimate government,” Mr. Sovann said.

Bou Saroeun, spokesman for the World Bank in Phnom Penh, said that questions of whether the bank would be more reluctant to begin de­velopment projects in Cambodia had to be referred to Washington.

Former ANZ Royal CEO Stephen Higgins said that the CNRP’s threat to rescind agreements was likely hollow and would not seriously affect confidence in the business community.

Mr. Higgins said a default on debts or cancellation of investment deals by any future CNRP government would make foreign institutions and firms uneasy about doing business in the country.

“I don’t think it is a serious threat because if it was implemented, it would damage Cambodia’s business reputation for a long time to come,” he said.

“If a business is looking at something highly controversial that is only going ahead because of political patronage, well, they may reflect twice, and simple good business practices would warrant that anyway.”

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said that the statement was simply “rhetoric” and would not scare people from dealing with Mr. Hun Sen’s government.

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