Criticism of CPP Sowing Political Tension

A senior government official on Tuesday branded recent criticisms of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government as a maneuver aimed at sowing tension in political circles and a possible attempt to delay next year’s general elections.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said he did not want to blame individuals but warned that criticism emerging from Funcin­pec was not constructive to the current political atmosphere.

His comments follow the re­lease on Monday of a statement clarifying Funcinpec Second Deputy Senate President Nhiek Bun Chhay’s criticism of corruption among government officials, the CPP’s inability to end border encroachment and the growing divide between Cambodia’s rich and poor.

“When the CPP makes propaganda and campaign, we don’t attack anyone. If you attack, you don’t have a clear political platform,” Khieu Kanharith said.

“The CPP never loses support,” Khieu Kanharith said. He added that such criticism was “short- sighted” and that those making the attacks had no real political vision for the country.

Criticism of the CPP—which has been in a four-year coalition government with Funcinpec as its junior partner—was sending a mixed message to Funcinpec supporters and would ultimately confuse and divide the royalist’s support base, he said.

Khieu Kanharith said he also thought that some elements in Cambodian politics would prefer to have the scheduled July elections delayed as opponents of the CPP know time is running out on their attempts to muster support.

“Some parties want to buy time to re-adapt and push a situation to cause delays to the election,” he said.

Raising political tension could remove an atmosphere conducive to holding “free and fair” elections, which could then be used as a pretext to postpone, he said.

Nhiek Bun Chhay’s recent criticism of government corruption, inadequate poverty reduction, increasing foreign debt and border issues were listed in a detailed, but unsigned, written statement released in Khmer and French on Monday.

“I would like to appeal to all beloved compatriots, please help to do everything to restore our beloved country to know the development level as in [King Norodom Sihanouk’s 1955-1970] glorious Sangkum Reastr Niyum era,” the statement said.

“I would like to wish in my heart, please, that the current peace and stability exists forever.”

Senior royalist party members gave their vote of approval to Nhiek Bun Chhay’s outspoken comments last week while Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh said on Monday that criticism of the CPP did not jeopardize the coalition.

“Nhiek Bun Chhay made his speech in his name as a senator. His speech does not affect the partnership between the two parties. He is a senator who has the right to speak,” the prince told reporters outside the National Assembly.

Prince Ranariddh said he met Hun Sen in Bangkok over the weekend and the prime minister has reiterated that both parties were as necessary as two wings on one aircraft.

Nhiek Bun Chhay also said on Tuesday that his comments were in no way directed at splitting the coalition, but highlighted problems in the country that were inhibiting proper development.

“It is not intended to make splits in the political parties and the coalition government partners…. It is a true thing that I have to raise in order for correct development,” he said by telephone.

Nhiek Bun Chhay said he met with Hun Sen during the Water Festival.

“The prime minister said ‘Chhay what are you saying, you make the people very surprised?’” he said, adding that he recounted his comments to Hun Sen.

“[Hun Sen] did not say to me not to say anything and until now nobody has oppressed me,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Lor Chandara)


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