Hun Sen Says Prince at Fault Over Stadium

Prime Minister Hun Sen sent a letter to King Norodom Sihanouk Saturday accusing Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ran­ariddh of approving a contract to renovate Olym­­pic Sta­dium in 1995 without the approval of Hun Sen, who was second prime minister at the time.

The letter comes in response to Prince Rana­riddh’s re­cent criticism over Hun Sen’s hand­ling of the stadium renovation contract.

Hun Sen wrote that Prince Ran­a­riddh and Minister of Edu­ca­tion Tol Lah signed a letter in 1995 grant­ing JM Trading Import Ex­port Co Ltd, a contract to construct and repair the Olympic Sta­dium. The letter, wrote Hun Sen, was not an official document be­cause it did not have his approval, which was necessary when he and the prince were co-prime ministers.

Nhiek Bun Chhay, deputy secretary-general of Funcinpec, said Sunday that “this accusation is not true because the company connected to Prince Ranariddh is not the company that is repairing the stadium today.”

In 2000, the Taiwan-based Yuan­ta Group paid the government $3.6 million to renovate the sta­dium in return for permission to de­vel­op the surrounding area. Can­­didates have criticized Hun Sen for his role in the contract, which has been mired in controversy.

Hun Sen wrote that his patience with Prince Ranariddh had run out. “Some people take the opportunity to suck my blood and spit it out on me,” he wrote the King.

In response to Hun Sen’s letter, King Sihanouk wrote a letter broadcast over Bayon television Sunday apologizing to Hun Sen and the CPP for the actions of the royalist party.

“I have great sorrow,” wrote King Sihanouk. “When the Fun­cinpec and the CPP have happiness and close fraternity, people have prosperity and happiness.”

Reacting to the accusations hurled between Prince Ranariddh and Hun Sen, Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said he plans to send an official letter to Prince Ranariddh asking him whether he was truly involved in corruption, and, if not, to support sending those involved in any wrongdoing to court.

Son Chhay said that the Olympic Stadium contract originated in 1995, when Prince Ranariddh was first prime minister, but was signed in 2000 under the government of Hun Sen.

“There is no doubt that Hun Sen is involved because he authorized the contract,” Son Chhay said.

On the campaign trail, opposition leader Sam Rainsy made three stops in Prey Veng province Sunday before heading to Kom­pong Cham province, where he is scheduled to attend a meeting with election candidates today.

In early July, Sam Rainsy plans to spend at least two days each in Prey Veng, Takeo, Kandal, Svay Rieng and Kompong Cham prov­inces, as well as Phnom Penh, a party statement said.

Toward the middle of July, he is scheduled to tour the northwest for a week, spending the majority of his time in Banteay Meanchey and Battambang provinces. Just before the election, he plans to campaign heavily in Kompong Cham province and Phnom Penh.

In the monthlong campaign, Sam Rainsy has no plans to visit the provinces of Stung Treng, Mondolkiri, Ratanakkiri, Preah Vihear or Koh Kong.

Prince Ranariddh met Sunday with supporters in Kandal prov­ince’s Ponhea Leu district. Today he is scheduled to hold a rally in Battambang province, a Funcin­pec statement said.

This week, Princess Norodom Vacheara, Funcinpec’s top Phnom Penh candidate, is scheduled to give a series of campaign speeches calling for “an end to a total control of power and a change of leadership for Cambodia,” according to another party statement.

Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua spoke Sunday in the first of a series of campaign speeches to women workers. Women comprise more than half of registered voters, according to the National Election Committee.

Japan announced Friday that it will send a 25-member team to monitor the elections and balloting, Kyodo News Service re­ported. Japanese Foreign Min­ister Yoriko Kawaguchi said five Japa­nese nationals living in Cam­bodia will be among the ob­servers, Kyodo reported.

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