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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sam Rainsy colleague urges deal

Sam Rainsy colleague urges deal

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Embattled opposition leader Sam Rainsy addresses an audience at a press conference held at the Sam Rainsy Party headquarters in Phnom Penh early last year.

I would like [Hun SEN]... to consider making a political compromise."

ALAWMAKER from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) has called on the government to drop its complaints against party president Sam Rainsy, who faces criminal charges in Svay Rieng provincial court stemming from a protest over the border in that province.

On Wednesday, SRP lawmaker Chea Poch appealed for a political compromise between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy over the case, which has seen the opposition leader accused of destroying private property and racial incitement.

The charges stem from an October 25 incident in which Sam Rainsy joined villagers in uprooting six wooden markers in Svay Rieng province close to the border with Vietnam, which they said were planted in their rice fields by Vietnamese authorities.

“We would like Samdech Prime Minister [Hun Sen] to consider Sam Rainsy’s case because we want all Khmer to unite in the new year. Khmers should not accuse each other,” Chea Poch said.

“I would like Samdech Prime Minister to consider making a political compromise and dropping the complaint.”

He added: “Politicians having conflict does not give profit to the people. In the new year, Samdech said that we should have unity in the nation.”

However, Chea Poch said he was not speaking for the party, claiming it was a personal appeal as a representative of the people, and was not suggesting that Sam Rainsy should have to apologise for his action.

“Sam Rainsy helped people not to lose their land, but I think Hun Sen’s warning for him not to request a pardon for [Sam Rainsy] is not right because Sam Rainsy has not yet been found guilty,” he said.

SRP Secretary General Ke Sovannroth reiterated that Chea Poch’s views were his own and that the SRP would let Sam Rainsy, who is currently in Europe, decide himself on how to proceed in his case.

“Our Permanent Committee will let him make decisions about his private issues by himself,” she said.

But Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said that a compromise would be illegal and that the enforcement of the law in this case was necessary for the strengthening of the rule of law more generally.

“The legal action over Sam Rainsy’s action is not based on rancour or discrimination. [We] are just enforcing the rule of law. This is about the public’s interests, not the individual’s interests. He who abuses the law must be punished by the law,” he said.

Also Wednesday, Ke Sovannroth dismissed comments made by Hun Sen on Tuesday that a senior SRP official had defected to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and remained inside the opposition’s ranks as a spy.

During the inauguration ceremony for National Road 1 in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district on Tuesday, Hun Sen said the opposition now had to tread carefully because of the supposed mole.

“A person has defected to my party already. Do not speak nonsense so much, be careful,” Hun Sen said. “Do not try to organise roundtable meetings so often. I have a person sitting there.”

Ke Sovannroth dismissed the comments as Hun Sen’s “psychological warfare” against the opposition, saying the party was not concerned about defections to the ruling party.

“I believe that we are all loving each other and that the SRP does not have anyone defecting,” she said.

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