Hun Sen Lauds Own Efforts to Ensure Normalcy in Cambodia

Prime Minister Hun Sen used a speech at a ceremony for graduating public administration students in Phnom Penh on Monday to reiterate that he was having little trouble governing the country while opposition lawmakers-elect boycott their seats in the National Assembly.

Speaking to the students from the Royal School of Administration, Mr. Hun Sen stressed the importance of ensuring normalcy in the running of the state to help push through the reforms he promised after last year’s election.

“First, [we must] continue with the normal processes of state institutions like I have clarified a few times already,” Mr. Hun Sen told the future civil servants. “Now, they are normal—don’t worry about there being a deadlock or no deadlock.”

In protest of the official results of last year’s national election, lawmakers-elect  from the CNRP have been boycotting the National Assembly since it was convened in September. The party had organized a series of mass demonstrations in Phnom Penh until the government unleashed a lethal wave of suppression early last month.

In an apparent reference to the suppression, in which five protesters were shot dead and more than 60 others beaten, shot or jailed without trial, Mr. Hun Sen on Monday also emphasized the value of his government maintaining control of the streets.

“The people need peace and the people need happiness. They do not need traffic jams from other actions, so we have protected peace for the country and the people. Peace for the people is necessary,” he said, before making an apparent reference to the 23 people charged with property destruction in last month’s protests.

“How should the people who destroy the people’s peace take responsibility before the law?” he asked

Mr. Hun Sen also asked the students to consider what they could do as future civil servants to help ensure stability.

“Political stability cannot be maintained for a long time while the macroeconomy is not guaranteed,” he said. “What can we do to push production in all sectors…to push the economy to grow above 7 percent?”

Representatives from Mr. Hun Sen’s ruling CPP and the CNRP are set to meet this morning at the Senate for the first meeting between the parties since last month’s suppression led to the CNRP abandoning talks that had been planned for January 3.

Senior officials from both parties say the talks, which will focus on the possibility of electoral reform, could pave the way for party leaders to meet to end the political deadlock.

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