Pailin Cautiously Urges Coalition, Denies Friction With CPP

thnol tor teng village, Pailin – Pailin Gover­nor Y Chhien told several hundred villagers and government officials here Thurs­day that political parties should put aside their differences over results of the election, which top officials here say was “free and fair enough.”

“We would like all the parties to honor the result of the election and to form a government as soon as possible,” the former Khmer Rouge commander said at the inauguration of a Ja­p­anese-financed primary school, 10 km southwest of Pailin town.

Pailin voters, he said, have considered the results of the election and found them to be satisfactory. Most of the residents in Pai­lin—under rebel control for all but three months since 1979—voted for the first time in their lives on July 26. Y Chhien is a member of the ostensibly politically neutral Democratic Na­tional Union Movement, led by former Khmer Rouge deputy premier Ieng Sary.

The opposition, which fared well in Pailin, has protested that the overall CPP victory was achieved with the help of fraud.

Officials of this gem-rich town this week echoed Y Chhien’s sentiments, and dismissed suggestions that a rift had developed between the CPP and Pailin over the pro-Sam Rainsy vote here and the government arrest of former Khmer Rouge commander and recent Pailin resident Nuon Paet.

“Pailin wants a coalition gov­ern­­ment…because Cambodia should not be monopolized by a single party,” Ieng Vuth, the second deputy governor and son of Ieng Sary, said Tuesday. “But it must be clear which party is responsible for the government.”

Despite an overwhelming vote for the Sam Rainsy Party in an area where the CPP has built schools and distributed food aid, Ieng Vuth said the CPP has not been angered by the loss.

But at least two three-star CPP military generals said privately last month that par­ty leaders were angry and concerned that Pailin leaders Y Chhien and Ieng Sary did not de­liver the former guerrilla stronghold.

Ieng Vuth said voters here cast ballots for Sam Rainsy because of his anti-corruption platform.

Officials also expressed confidence that a CPP-dominated government would send money to the struggling new mu­nicipality in spite of the Sam Rainsy victory.                        “The CPP will keep supporting Pailin because it does not want Pailin to get away from it in the next election,” said Mei Mak, the city Cabinet chief, Wednes­day. The CPP has built three schools in the former Khmer Rouge area since its 1996 defection to the government. Con­struction on another 15-room, CPP-financed school is under way.

“Pailin has a good relationship with the CPP,” said Katt Kann, the third deputy governor and CPP’s candidate for election here. “For a long time, Pailin has had a closer relationship with the CPP  than any other party.”

Residents and Division 22 soldiers interviewed this week said the government arrest of Nuon Paet just days after the election has angered top officials, including Y Chhien and Ieng Sary. One Cabinet aide said that Y Chhien and Ieng Sary are close to Nuon Paet, but that the Pailin governor cannot act against it because “he lives under the CPP and must work with them.”

Pailin officials publicly denied any ill feeling over the arrest, which some said was Second Prime Minister Hun Sen’s gift to the foreign community for their support for, and blessing of, the elections. Nuon Paet is accused of kidnapping and executing three foreign tourists in Kampot province in 1994.

Asked whether the arrest had sent a message to Pailin’s former Khmer Rouge that they may be arrested at any time, Ieng Vuth said, “I don’t think it is anything serious like that.”

 

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