Pen Sovann Rails Against Vietnamese, CPP

cheung prey district, Kompong Cham province – Cambodian National Sustaining Party President Pen Sovann lashed out at Vietnam and the CPP during a campaign stop Wednesday.

“We will work with other parties except those that are serving the foreign country,” he said in reference to the CPP, which is led by members of the Phnom Penh government installed by the Vietnamese regime in 1979.

Pen Sovann also pledged to protect Cambodia’s borders, which he claimed Vietnam is violating. “It wants to be master of our country,” he said.

Pen Sovann himself was part of the Vietnamese-backed government in Phnom Penh from 1979 until 1981, when he was arrested and detained in Hanoi. At the time of the arrest, Pen Sovann was the communist party president and prime minister. He is a longtime critic of Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Before embarking on Wed­nesday’s tour around Kompong Cham pro­vince, Pen Sovann held an incense-burning ceremony at his Phnom Penh headquarters to pray for safety.

Pen Sovann has said previously that he was concerned for his security and believed his activities are regularly monitored by security agents loyal to CPP officials.

Six vehicles and 50 supporters joined his campaign convoy. During the campaign stump, Pen Sovann spoke through loudspeakers from the back of a pickup festooned with his portrait and banners. He did not get off the truck to mix with the crowd as he spoke at periodic market stops along the road.

The crowds were sparse, reaching 80 at the most.

Most of Pen Sovann’s speech was related to his political life, from his time with the Vietnam-based resistance movement to li­berate Cambodia from the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime to his days in the “dungeon.” The latter refers to his imprisonment for 10 years in Hanoi—first in prison and later under house arrest.

At Skun market in Cheung Prey district, Pen Sovann pledged to promote a free-market economy. “Our party will carry out the free-market economy,” he pro­mised, his face glistening with sweat drops from the hot morning sun.

He claimed Vietnam violated Cambodian coastal waters by recently signing an oil agreement with companies without government consent.

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