The Mirage of a Cambodia Palace Coup

Suggestions by Sam Rainsy of a palace coup grossly overestimate factionalism in the CPP and underestimate Hun Sen’s power.

Despite having failed to return to Cambodia from exile on March 3 despite a very public wager with Prime Minister Hun Sen that he would do so, Sam Rainsy, the Cambodian opposition figure who is today the acting-president of the now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), continues to be causing trouble on a range of fronts that may draw attention but are unlikely to have any real impact on the country’s politics.

First, having not returned, he decided instead to once again call on the military to disobey the orders of Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is improbable given the military often resembles the CPP’s armed wing. Then, days later, Sam Rainsy inexplicably appeared to call for a “palace coup” within the CPP by saying the exiled opposition party could work with the ruling party but only if Hun Sen was removed. “The CNRP does not demand a regime change – we extend an embrace towards the ruling party, as only these two parties can determine the destiny of Cambodia. Removal of Hun Sen is the first step,” he said.

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