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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sam Rainsy points the finger at Hun Sen

Sam Rainsy points the finger at Hun Sen

FOR opposition leader Sam Rainsy, it was all a big set up. According to Rainsy

the November 24 street fighting was orchestrated by Prime Minister Hun Sen to

create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation and justify a pre-emptive

crack-down on Government opponents.

Two weeks after the early morning

attacks , Rainsy said his suspicions have been borne out by the on-going

detention and interrogation of hundreds of suspects.

"They have killed

many birds with one stone," Rainsy told the Post. "The first bird is to frame

political opponents in other parties, outside of the CPP. The second object they

have achieved is to threaten some factions within the CPP who are not very

supportive of Mr Hun Sen. This is a message to Hun Sen rivals in the CPP: 'Be

careful, we are watching'."

According to Rainsy, the Cambodian Freedom

Fighters were sponsored by the Government and then set up as scapegoats to

justify an anti-opposition crackdown.

"Authoritarian regimes always need

a scapegoat," he said. "[They] always need an atmosphere of tension so that they

can divert attention ... have a pretext to eliminate their opponents [and] use

national resources ... to serve their partisan or individual

interests."

Rainsy ridicules Government allegations that former SRP

member Chhun Yasith, who was expelled from the party two years ago for

appropriating party funds, had the capability to mastermind a CFF

anti-government insurrection.

"[Yasith] spent the money in bars, dancing

with girls and at the end of his stay [in Cambodia] he came to me asking for

money," he said. "He didn't have enough to pay for his airport tax or his last

hotel bill. He is not a serious guy."

Rainsy hints that Yasith's current

lifestyle in Long Beach, California, where he supposedly lives with three wives,

is being bankrolled by a wealthy patron.

"[Yasith's lifestyle] is much

above what we would expect from an ordinary Cambodian dissident," he said. " We

would not be surprised if he has received money ... from Hun Sen. Either he has

been led to do things ... or more consciously he [has] played the game, knowing

that it would lead to the death of people, while benefiting Mr Hun

Sen."

Rainsy describes the Government's November 28 creation of a special

anti-terrorist commission as the second phase of the opposition crackdown begun

in the early hours of November 24.

"They appoint a commission so that

they can point their finger and arrest those people they do not like," he said.

"They fear that one day those people will oppose them so they kill or put [them]

in jail in advance."

Government spokesperson Khieu Kanharith firmly

dismissed Rainsy's allegations, describing them as "unfounded and

irresponsible". He denied any connections between the ruling CPP party and the

CFF, and said Rainsy should "look at the evidence" before making comments

damaging to Cambodia's image.

"If the Government had wanted to do it

[crack down on it's opponents] we would have done it in a much better way," he

said.

Kanharith said all those detained by the police since the attack

have been arrested on "legitimate grounds ... and were "not politically

based".

Describing the CFF attack as having had "no chance of success",

Kanharith said the CFF's real motivation had been to sabotage the image of

Cambodia internationally.

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