Kem Sokha Blasts Hun Sen’s Era of Destruction

CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha on Sunday assured supporters that the opposition party is still working to oust Prime Minister Hun Sen from power, claiming that no other Cambodian leader has overseen the level of environmental destruction that has taken place during his time in power.

Speaking at a CNRP public forum in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva district, Mr. Sokha noted that Mr. Hun Sen last week marked the 30th anniversary of his ascension to power during Cambodia’s communist 1980s.

“For the CPP, brothers and sisters have heard that he has led for 30 years, and that has been enough for the nation and the world to know him clearly, and that there are so many issues in Khmer society today,” Mr. Sokha said.

“There are no leaders, regimes, eras or generations that have destroyed the Khmer’s forests, land and natural resources more than the regime of Prime Minister Hun Sen.”

The deputy opposition leader assured the crowd that the CNRP is still working to oust Mr. Hun Sen, despite signing a deal on July 22 that has led to increased cooperation between the two parties.

“Our goal is the same—to change today’s leaders,” Mr. Sokha said, to cheers from the crowd of more than 1,000 CNRP faithful.

“In the world, the leaders who cling to power for a long time have not been good or honest to the nation and their people, and the longest-serving leaders in the world are dictatorial and corrupt people.”

Mr. Sokha also appeared to blast Prince Norodom Ranariddh—who is set to return today to the presidency of the Funcinpec party, which ousted him as its leader in 2006—comparing the prince’s comeback to old food that the ruling party once discarded but is now retrieving from the trash.                                    “[The CPP] has gathered small pieces together that have already been wrapped in banana leaves…and thrown in the garbage can, and is taking it back to use it,” he said.

Prince Ranariddh has acknowledged that Mr. Hun Sen played an active role in his return to the royalist party, and the CNRP has claimed that the prince’s return has been engineered to harm the opposition.

Prince Ranariddh could not be reached Sunday.

Mr. Sokha in his speech also criticized the ruling party’s continued arrests of opposition officials and party activists during ongoing election reform talks, and said the CPP has been late to deliver on a number of its other promises.

“We have the right to use TV and radio and these things were in the policies of the agreement, but [the CPP] has tried to delay it to make our people sick and tired, and for you to become hopeless,” Mr. Sokha said.

“Since they cannot break up the top, therefore they break up the people by making people angry at the leaders of the CNRP.”

“It is the communist trick when you are negotiating, to arrest people and fight,” he said. “We know their tricks.”

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