CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha said during a radio interview this week that he will meet with senior officials in the U.S. Department of Defense during his 20-day visit to the U.S., seeking their support for an eventual CNRP-led government.
Mr. Sokha, in an interview with Voice of America posted to his Facebook page on Thursday, said that U.S. military support might be necessary to ensure that the ruling CPP hands over power in the event that the CNRP wins a future election.
“We know that the Cambodia National Rescue Party will win the election,” Mr. Sokha said. “So we’ve already informed them, especially we will inform the U.S. Defense Ministry—the Pentagon.”
“Besides meeting with Cambodian communities in 14 states, I have met with many officials and I will be meeting with more senators, congressmen…and I will be meeting with a general in charge of Asia affairs at the Pentagon,” he said.
Mr. Sokha said that the CNRP was concerned about a repeat of the U.N.-sponsored elections in 1993, when Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling CPP lost the election, but ultimately managed to hold onto power in a coalition government with Funcinpec.
“Thus, we ask [the U.S.] to help in any way to make sure the power transfer will be made in a peaceful manner between the loser and winner,” Mr. Sokha said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said that Mr. Sokha was “lost and confused” if he believed that the U.S. Department of Defense might intervene in Cambodia’s electoral affairs.
“The United States of America is just a country and Cambodia is an independent sovereign state, so Kem Sokha is lost and confused,” Mr. Siphan said.
“Whenever there is a power transfer, the state will not allow interference from other countries. If [Kem Sokha] has said otherwise, it proves he is a puppet of the U.S.,” he added.
Mr. Siphan added that Mr. Hun Sen is committed to maintaining peace in the country.
“Samdech Hun Sen is really brave to accept the people’s will through the majority voice,” he said. “He’s repeatedly said that the power transfer will occur in a peaceful climate.”