Sin Sen Sticks to Rainsy Party

Sin Sen, an ex-CPP central committee member and former top Interior Ministry general, on Friday reiterated his support for government critic Sam Rainsy.

Speaking to reporters for the first time since publicly urging voters on June 29 to cast their ballot for Sam Rainsy, Sin Sen said Cambodians are “not free.”

“I want Cambodia to walk the democratic path, so I support the Sam Rainsy Party,” Sin Sen said shortly before boarding a flight to Bangkok, where he said he will receive medical treatment.

“This party has been struggling for democracy for a long time, and so I want to help them.”

Sin Sen was an influential commander of police units until 1994, when he was accused and convicted of plotting a coup d’etat.

He is the first prominent general to publicly support Sam Rainsy, who sent out a July 3 message appealing to the military and police to enforce the result of the poll if it is deemed free and fair by the international community.

Sin Sen had “thousands” of policemen under his command until the 1994 debacle, diplomats and Interior Ministry officials have said. But his influence now within Cambodia’s security apparatus is seen as marginal.

“He still has people who are loyal to him, but he is in no position to issue orders or mobilize forces. The command structure that had been below him was completely destroyed in 1994,” an Asean diplomat said Saturday.

Sin Sen said he was ejected April 16 from the CPP, and stripped of his responsibilities on its internal af­fairs com­mittee. A top CPP cabinet official confirmed Fri­day that Sin Sen has nothing to do with the party but that he resigned from the CPP.

Sin Sen on Friday did not elaborate on why he was booted from the party. CPP insiders have said he openly criticized Hun Sen, the party vice president and second prime minister.

In July 1994, Sin Sen was accused by Hun Sen of plotting a coup d’etat and later convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He was amnestied by King Norodom Sihanouk in late July 1997.

Sin Sen denied Friday he feared reprisals for his newly revealed political views. But aides said he was concerned about his safety.

A government adviser said recently that Sam Rainsy is playing with fire by courting Sin Sen.

“This could be provide a pretext for authorities to arrest Rainsy, if they feel they need to,” said the adviser, who asked not to be named.

Sin Sen complained Friday about lung problems. He said he likely would remain in Thailand, but might seek medical treatment in another country.

Sin Sen said he said he hoped to return before the July 26 polling date.

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