Prime Minister Hun Sen blasted unnamed analysts for statements indicating their desire to bring the Paris Peace Agreements back into force somehow. He said that calling for a reversion to that agreement was tantamount to calling for foreigners to take control of the country again.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony for the new headquarters of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction on November 8, Hun Sen recounted the history of the largely ceremonial Supreme National Council that was presided over by the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and the political situation during the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) period in the country.
He said UNTAC began governing affairs in Cambodia after the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements on October 23, 1991, but only up until the Constituent Assembly became the National Assembly and formed the government, at which point UNTAC ended its duties.
“So the highest-ranking person in Cambodia at that time during UNTAC was not the late King Father – it was whoever presided over UNTAC – which was determined by the permanent members of the UN Security Council as UNTAC’s parent organisation.
“You have to understand the Constitution – our King is the supreme authority in Cambodia. Why would you want to call on UNTAC to return? Are you a man or an animal? UNTAC had already finished its duties.
“Please don’t be impolite! Don’t be insolent … Say what you please, but if it is illegal, I will hit back,” Hun Sen said.
The prime minister was also angered by the accusation that the National Assembly had illegally violated the Paris Peace Agreements by amending the two-thirds formula to 50-plus-one when forming the government. He said the accords did not specify that the government has to be formed with a two-third majority.
“So, once you [falsely] accuse the parliament of wrongdoing, [we] have the rights to handcuff you … Come and explain it to the courts. Why did you accuse the parliament like that?” he said.
Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said much of the contents of the Paris Peace Agreements were included in the Constitution, but either way the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and our nation cannot have two of them.
“What we have to do is respect the Constitution by adhering to the provisions defined in it,” he said.
“We could not rely completely on the Paris Peace Agreements to protect Cambodia’s sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and inviolability so we strengthened these provisions ourselves when drafting the Constitution.”
Cambodia Reform Party (CRP) founder Ou Chanrath begged to differ, saying the text of the Paris Peace Agreements did not specify a date when – or a condition under which – its validity would finally end.
“For me, validity or invalidity depends on all of us. Can it be beneficial for our nation if we do not withdraw from these accords? As a matter of validity, it seems that no country has announced any end to [the agreements’] validity or their withdrawal from these peace agreements because we know that it was not drafted in Cambodia’s interests alone. It is in the interests of the entire region,” he said.