The CPP will not compromise on its decision to appoint Hun Sen as the party’s candidate for prime minister despite opposition party statements that CPP President Chea Sim would be a premier more acceptable to a future coalition government, a senior CPP official said Wednesday.
Honorary CPP President and long-serving party stalwart Heng Samrin said Hun Sen’s candidacy will not be removed and both the Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec are in no position to bargain on who becomes prime minister.
“The CPP won the election, so we have a right to keep the candidacy of…Hun Sen,” Heng Samrin said by telephone.
“It is our right to put who we approve. It is not for other political parties to say this or that. They are the losers,” he said.
Heng Samrin said the CPP has not yet chosen a coalition partner, but said that in the next government he will replace Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh as National Assembly president. In the meantime, “If the parties block the formation of a coalition, the current government will continue,” Heng Samrin said.
However, an adviser to Prince Ranariddh said Heng Samrin’s claims to the prince’s job were “too premature,” coming at a time when two of the three main election participants were disputing the election.
A second CPP member said that a proposal to make Chea Sim, now Senate president, the premier was impossible, as the party’s powerful 21-member Central Committee and party Congress had adopted Hun Sen as prime minister. The decision cannot be changed, the member said. He added that though Chea Sim might be a popular leader for some inside the CPP, Hun Sen is far more powerful.
The situation is very volatile, he said. “It is very, very serious. The winning party have a right to form a government. The losing parties have no right to form the government,” he said.
Letters of support for preliminary election results from pro-Hun Sen groups and unions were distributed to media outlets Wednesday by the CPP-dominated Council of Ministers’ press office.
The League of Cambodian Students and Intellectuals Coordination Committee; The Cambodian Democratic Students and Intellectuals Federation; the professors, civil officials, workers and students of the Faculty of Health Science; and the civil servants, professors, staff, workers and students of the Royal University of Phnom Penh issued letters of support for the election Wednesday.
High school teachers at both the Tuol Tumpong and Bactuk schools in Phnom Penh also confirmed that petitions of support for the results and Hun Sen’s continued candidacy as prime minister were being collected.
“After the [National Election Committee] announces the formal election result, we will make a petition to support Prime Minister Hun Sen,” said Tuol Tumpong High School Principal Chet Yam.
Sok Sovanna, director of Bactuk High School said,“I want the country to have stability, parties have to recognize the result.”
Both opposition and royalist party officials said earlier this week they expect the first post-election rallies in Phnom Penh to be organized as “victory demonstrations” in support of Hun Sen.
As tension grows over the election stalemate, Funcinpec officials alleged Wednesday that efforts were being made to implicate several royalist military figures in a fake secession movement.
Hoax leaflets printed on paper with Funcinpec’s logo have been distributed in several provinces naming royalist officials Nhiek Bun Chhay, Sin Sen, Nhek Sari, Lay Virak, Prom Sou, Serey Kosal and Khan Savoeun to the alleged plot.
“Because of this leaflet we decided to leave from the provinces and come to Phnom Penh today,” Serey Kosal, who had been in Battambang province, said Wednesday.
“We never have any intention make an autonomous zone…. This leaflet is a serious threat to us. It is not normal. The people who do this leaflet are very cheap,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Yun Samean and Kim Chan)