Kem Sokha Returns, Won’t Continue CNRP’s Border Questioning

Upon returning from an almost monthlong trip to Australia and New Zealand on Wednesday, CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha told reporters that he was uninterested in speaking about recent developments in the opposition party’s battle against the government over the demarcation of the country’s border with Vietnam.

Prime Minister Hun Sen delivered a speech on Tuesday defending his government’s demarcation work and again threatened legal action if the opposition continued using the border issue for political gain.

CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha talks to reporters outside Phnom Penh's Prey Sar prison on Wednesday. (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)
CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha talks to reporters outside Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison on Wednesday. (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)

Mr. Sokha, after visiting jailed CNRP activists in Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison, said that he had told them his sole focus was on upcoming elections.

“I explained to them that we need to think about elections and that the CNRP’s leaders and activists have to prepare themselves to pay attention to the election rather than paying attention to this or that issue,” Mr. Sokha told reporters.

The deputy opposition leader explained that he had never called attention to the issue of Vietnamese incursions into Cambodia because he believes that raising the topic under Mr. Hun Sen’s government is useless.

“I myself have never raised the maps and the border, because I think that there is not a solution, and I think the solution is that the CNRP wins the election, and when we run the country we can accordingly solve the national issues,” Mr. Sokha said.

“Now we are just accompanying [the CPP], and we cannot do anything,” he recounted of his message to the activists, adding that a cooling of relations with the CPP was necessary.

“If we do not win the election, we will have no power, and we cannot solve the national problems,” he said.

“Our brothers [in prison] supported my views to make the atmosphere quiet,” Mr. Sokha added. “We need to think about what the big issue is, and it is the reform of elections, the election system, and the other sectors, rather than quarreling with each other.”

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy was scheduled to accompany Mr. Sokha back to Cambodia but did not. CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann would not say where Mr. Rainsy was on Wednesday.

“He is busy with his mission,” he said.

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