Hun Sen: Murders Couldn’t Be Prevented

srei santhor district, Kompong Cham province – Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday responded to claims that he be held responsible for ensuring the public’s safety, saying he could not have prevented a recent spate of killings, including last week’s slaying of union leader Chea Vichea.

“Murders actually happen all over the world. Even in the US, they could not prevent [the Sept 11 attacks] that left thousands of people dead. But these people never asked the US president to step down,” Hun Sen said.

The Cambodian Watchdog Council, a coalition of student, teacher and factory unions, called Sunday for Hun Sen’s removal if the CPP-led government does not bring the killers to justice.

“Just a few deaths here, they ask me to step down,” Hun

Sen said, though he added: “We don’t want any human deaths since this is our duty…to en-

sure political stability and social order.”

In a nearly two-hour long speech marking the inauguration of Baray commune’s Wat Banhchi Thom, Hun Sen added he is consulting with lawyers over the possibility of taking legal action against one person who accused him of ordering the killings of five people.

Although the prime minister did not provide names, CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith later said Hun Sen was referring to opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who, in an interview with BBC television last week, blamed the CPP for Chea Vichea’s death.

Chea Vichea, president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, was gunned down Thursday outside a newspaper stand near Wat Lang­ka in Chamkar Mon district. His death follows a slew of killings of Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party supporters that the parties have claimed were politically motivated.

On Monday, the Sam Rainsy Party issued a “white list” of five public figures who, it said, the CPP allegedly planned to assassinate in the near future. The list included Sam Rainsy, his party’s secretary-general, Eng Chhay Eang, Fun­cinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh, Kem Sokha, the director of the Cambodia Center for Human Rights, and Rong Chhun, the president of the Cambodian Independent Teach­ers’ Association.

It added that Hun Sen would personally be held responsible “if any assassination attempt is effectively made on any of the above possible targets.”

Hun Sen on Wednesday suggested each of the five people on the list be given one tank each to protect them—an offer Sam Rainsy declined.

“Please do not shoot us. That is enough. I do not need the tank. [Hun Sen] is the one who shoots and then gives us the tank,” Sam Rainsy said Wednesday.

Commenting on a possible lawsuit by the prime minister, Sam Rainsy said he would appeal for help from the US.

“I want the US to respond. I want [Hun Sen] to fall into my trap right now. He has already fallen into my trap,” Sam Rainsy said.

He said if a court case is launched, “whenever I need evidence, I will have it.” He did not elaborate.

Sam Rainsy repeated that Hun Sen should be held responsible by the international community if any of the five on his “white list” are harmed, and added that he hoped for a stronger reaction from foreign officials.

On Tuesday, Sam Rainsy told reporters that he would ask the international community to “yank Mr Hun Sen by his neck to face an international trial” if any of the five are killed, Deutsche-Presse Agentur reported.

US Embassy spokeswoman Heide Bronke said the US would not back any political party during the deadlock, which

has stalled the formation of a

new government and Nat-

ional Assembly for almost six months.

“We encourage all sides to resolve their conflicts peacefully,” she said.

In his speech, Hun Sen repeated his preference for a two-party government, adding that he would remain as premier.

“I am afraid setting up a government of three parties will cost the government more money to purchase more cars for new people” in the government, he said.

The Alliance of Democrats has maintained it will only join a tripartite government.

Responding to the Alliance’s earlier calls for Hun Sen to step down as premier, he said: “Why should there be no Hun Sen if people voted for me? I am not clinging to power…. Hun Sen could not be defeated. If [you] hope to do that, please wait to do so in 2008” during the next national election.

The prime minister also stressed that the government had enough funds to continue its regular functions during the deadlock.

In recent weeks, the Foreign Affairs Ministry announced job and salary cuts due to “difficulty with the national budget,” while the Senate has announced it is in debt.

“We are not running out of money as they have said,” Hun Sen said. “We do have [money] but no president [in the Assembly] to approve and draw money.”

He promised lawmakers, who have not been paid since the July 27 national elections, would be paid once the Assembly is formed.

“They will get all. But according to the financial law, there must be a leader to sign before getting the money,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Wency Leung and Porter Barron)

 

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