HRP Official Accuses Hun Sen of Abusing Power

A Human Rights Party official Wednesday accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of abusing his power and depriving soldiers at Preah Vihear temple of badly needed supplies, an accusation that follows a Saturday incident in which RCAF officials blocked six truckloads of supplies organized by the HRP.

Soldiers who blocked the truck Saturday cited an order by the prime minister to stop opposition party members from delivering supplies, HRP Vice President Pen Sovann claimed Tuesday by telephone. The temple is a hotspot in the ongoing border dispute be­tween Thailand and Cambodia.

“[Hun Sen] abuses the power in his hands and did not think of the hungry soldiers at the temple when he prevented the contributions by the opposition party,” said Pen Sovann, who was prime minister in 1981 and a colleague of Hun Sen in the then-People’s Republic of Kampuchea.

“We were disappointed that we had to transport back all those supplies,” which included donated clothes, food, medicine and $5,000, he said. They were to be delivered by three HRP lawmakers, he added.

Hun Sen overrode the ap­proval of National Assembly Pres­ident Heng Samrin, who gave permission for the HRP’s trip from Jan 1 to Jan 5, Pen So­vann alleged.

“We were there in our capacity as lawmakers, not as a political party,” he said.

Nguon Nhel, CPP first vice president of the National Ass­embly, said the ruling party and Hun Sen had nothing to do with the incident.

“The military is a national force, which is not related to a political party,” Nguon Nhel maintained.

He added that he was unaware of Heng Samrin giving permission for the trip. Heng Samrin could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Lieutenant General Srey Dek, the RCAF commander for Preah Vihear province, offered several explanations for the incident.

“I did not get any orders from Sam­dech Hun Sen. We closed the road because of construction and military duty…. We were concerned about their security,” he said by telephone Wednesday.

“They could have contributed at the mountain base, but they insisted on going to the top,” Srey Dek said, adding that be­cause of past donations, from Hun Sen and others, there is no shortage of anything.

The incident drew criticism from officials at the SRP and a human rights group who said the military’s refusal to let the lawmakers pass had nothing to do with security.

Ou Virak, president of the Cam­bodian Center for Human Rights, said by telephone Wed­nes­day that the incident called into question the neutrality of the nation’s armed forces.

“It’s a serious problem. The mil­itary is not independent and they discriminate against the opposition parties,” he said, ad­ding that ties between the military and CPP run deep.


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