First Prime Minister Ung Huot on Saturday warned opposition figures calling for a postponement of the scheduled July 26 elections that they risk five more years under the present regime.
“According to the Constitution, the postponement takes one year, not one month. But according to [Second Prime Minister] Hun Sen, if the election is to be postponed for one year it is better to postpone for five years,” Ung Huot said in a speech broadcast on National Radio.
“That means Hun Sen and I will hold power until 2003. I can hardly say I would disagree with this. I can’t object to this, because if my party participates in the upcoming election, I do not know for sure that it will win. So it is easy if all agree not to hold an election. So please do not make any protest,” he cautioned.
“One can say the train has already left the station and gathered speed. If you want to put a stick into the wheels, the stick will break but the train will not collapse. Do not try to do that.”
The opposition National United Front announced May 18 that it would boycott the elections unless they were postponed, saying present conditions do not allow for free and fair polls. But Hun Sen scorned the announcement, saying the government would not be held to ransom by a “small group of politicians who boycott.”
Earlier last month, during an opposition parliamentary boycott, Hun Sen warned that an election delay could lead to the dissolution of the National Assembly at the end of its five-year mandate and that he and Ung Huot would rule by decree.