Hun Sen Likens New Opposition to ‘Old Whiskeys Rebottled’

With the national election little more than four months away, Prime Minister Hun Sen entered full campaign mode Tuesday and compared the newly formed opposition party to two old whiskeys that have been mixed together and rebottled to look different.

In a speech marking the inauguration of the National Council on Green Growth at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Mr. Hun Sen said the merger of the opposition SRP and HRP to make the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) would offer no threat during the national election on July 28.

“It’s just old whiskey put in a new bottle,” Mr. Hun Sen said in his first speech since being nominated by members of the ruling CPP at the party’s congress over the weekend to run for prime minister.

“It’s just Hennessy mixed with Johnnie Walker and placed in a new bottle. There is nothing new. It’s still the same old people with their old faces,” he said.

Mr. Hun Sen said that his familiarity with the strategies used by the SRP in past elections would ensure that he steers the CPP to a comfortable victory in this year’s ballot.

“I know his strategy already,” he said of opposition leader Sam Rainsy. “So this time I will knock him out with only one kick because he is not a god. It’s the same person.”

Kem Sokha, vice president of the CNRP, said that it was a positive sign for the opposition that Mr. Hun Sen was speaking out against the CNRP, as it indicated that he feels threatened by a united opposition.

“It is good that he talks about these issues because it means he is afraid,” Mr. Sokha said.

“If he knows all of our strategies, we also know his after 30 years in power, and we can do better than them,” he added.

In the run up to the July’s vote, election monitors have said this year’s election will be the least fair in the 20 years since the U.N. organized the first post-war vote in 1993.

The CNRP, currently being led in the country by Mr. Sokha, a parliamentarian, has said it will campaign on a platform that in­cludes promises to raise the general minimum wage to $150 and offer a $10 monthly pension payment to individuals over the age of 65.

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