Prime Minister Hun Sen denied allegations of a factional rift in the CPP on Tuesday, in his first public statement on the rumors since the abrupt departure of Senate and CPP President Chea Sim to Bangkok earlier this month.
Downplaying the timing of Chea Sim’s police-escorted trip out of the country on the day he was scheduled to approve a controversial legal measure to end the political deadlock, Hun Sen criticized opposition party members who he accused of planting the rumors in an effort to sow dissent within the ruling party.
“Some people have used…
Samdech Chea Sim’s departure to Thailand July 13 in order to make rumors that Chea Sim was persecuted,” the prime minister wrote in a statement released Tuesday night by the Information Ministry. “They also claimed that 20 CPP parliamentarians fled the country because the party is fragile.”
The parliamentarians in question were present in the National Assembly, Hun Sen wrote. In response to rumors that Chea Sim was forced out of the country for refusing to sign off on the so-called “package vote” measure, the prime minister scoffed at the notion of a division within the party’s uppermost ranks.
“Since the first negotiations between the Funcinpec and CPP parties, Samdech Chea Sim allowed me the right to lead the negotiation process…. Without the support from Samdech Chea Sim, I cannot achieve results like this,” he wrote.
Bitter members of the opposition party attempting to “defame the CPP’s reputation” fueled the rumors, he said.
However, some observers pointed to events since the formation of the new government that could suggest Chea Sim’s power has diminished within the party.
In the last mandate, his brother-in-law Sar Kheng was one of only two deputy prime ministers, said Kem Sokha, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. He is now one of seven, a possible attempt to dilute the power of politicians aligned with the party president, Kem Sokha said Wednesday.
“Prime Minster Hun Sen cannot use his palm to hide the sun,” said Sam Rainsy Party Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang Wednesday, referring to the vast size of the perceived intra-party split. “Everyone knows there was a rift within the party.”
Chea Sim is scheduled to address a conference of monks today, said Kuntea Borey, his chief of protocol. The speech was rescheduled after Chea Sim abruptly canceled his appearance Tuesday morning, citing health reasons.