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Hun Sen threatens to strip Kem Sokha of role

Opposition deputy leader Kem Sokha
Opposition deputy leader Kem Sokha speaks with supporters in Kampot province on Sunday, where he made comments about the CPP trying to divide CNRP leadership. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Hun Sen threatens to strip Kem Sokha of role

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday threatened to have opposition deputy leader Kem Sokha sacked from his position as National Assembly deputy president if he insists that the ruling party is trying to divide the opposition.

On Monday, Sokha gave a speech to a group of supporters in Kampot town where he said the Cambodian People’s Party was attempting to divide the Cambodia National Rescue Party ahead of the next election in 2018.

Hun Sen did not mention Sokha by name, but said “someone is trying to cause divisions. If he said that, he would be breaking the culture of dialogue. The culture of dialogue cannot be affected; it means that if we don’t harm them, they don’t harm us.

“I just want to tell him that it is not up to him whether or not this has broken the culture of dialogue,” he said. “The CPP has lots of work to get on with and has no time to waste trying to divide you. Whether there is a split or not depends on you.”

He also said he had phoned CNRP president Sam Rainsy, in the United States on a speaking and fundraising tour, and compared the relationship of the two leaders to a married couple.

“It’s like being husband and wife,” he said. “Even if the in-laws are against you, we want to stay together. A split won’t happen.”

Hun Sen said he had yet to listen to a recording of Sokha’s speech having only so far read media reports. “I told Sam Rainsy that [Sokha] came to that position with CPP votes, and he will be fired by the CPP’s votes, too.”

On April 29, Hun Sen warned the CNRP that he would cancel the current detente between the parties if Sokha and other party members continued to use fiery rhetoric against the ruling party.

A week later a joint communique was signed where both parties pledged not to offer harsh criticisms of their counterparts.

Sokha could not be reached yesterday, but Yim Sovann, a party spokesman, said the CNRP continued to support the new relationship with the CPP.

“I understand that if there is misunderstanding between the two leaders, we can still talk. We can meet and raise the different points of view. The culture of dialogue is to meet and find solutions together for the sake of the nation.”