Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen offers Rainsy bet on arrest within 24 hours of return

Hun Sen offers Rainsy bet on arrest within 24 hours of return

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Sam Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Senate in 2014. Heng Chivoan

Hun Sen offers Rainsy bet on arrest within 24 hours of return

Hun Sen has offered Sam Rainsy a wager regarding his announced return to Cambodia on November 9, with the prime minister to step down should the latter do so and not be arrested within 24 hours.

The prime minister’s bet on Friday came after Rainsy last week called on him to resign should he return on the specified date.

The “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party responded with a wager of his own on Friday that Hun Sen should step down should the number of supporters out to greet him on his return number a million.

Neither is yet to accept the other’s offer.

Rainsy who lives in France to avoid a slew of court cases and convictions has promised to return numerous times but failed to do so.

“If I arrest you, you have to be brave and end your political career, agreeing to dissolve all the organisations you have created.

“If you are not brave enough to return to Cambodia, you have to end your political career and dissolve all your organisations. Are you brave to accept this bet?” Hun Sen asked.

Hun Sen said he also prayed that anyone not honouring the bet would be destroyed, including Rainsy’s whole family.

He reiterated on Friday that whether Rainsy accepted the bet or not, he would be arrested should he return.

Rainsy took to Facebook on Friday to offer his own wager.

“If the number of CNRP supporters who come – without obstruction – to greet me is less than one million, I will accept arrest by Hun Sen’s forces and put an end to my political career.

“But if the number of CNRP supporters reaches or exceeds one million, Hun Sen will have to step down immediately,” Rainsy told The Post on Sunday.

The bet should be observed by the UN and the international media, especially with regards to respecting condition “without obstruction” and the actual number of people who showed up to welcome him, he said.

He said if Hun Sen rejected his bet, it showed that he was “a real dictator” who was “shameful and afraid of his people, whose opinion he rejects”.

“As for the bet initiated by Hun Sen, it is a despicable one because it revolves only around the use of brute force on the part of a despicable dictator,” Rainsy said.

Hun Sen said on Friday that Rainy’s wager was “ridiculous”.

“It is ridiculous and shows the clear intention that [he] wants to escape law enforcement by the Cambodian authorities. It is also just a pretext to not return to Cambodia,” Hun Sen said.

Whether or not the bet was accepted, police would arrest Rainsy with a court warrant and put him in jail within 24 hours of his arrival, the prime minister said.

Rainsy reiterated on Sunday that his plan to return on November 9 had not changed.

On Sunday, ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan called Rainsy the “leader of a rebel group”.

He said Rainsy had changed the conditions of the wager on his return to escape jail. He said Rainsy had initiated many bets because he was not brave enough to come back to Cambodia.

“There are two options which are a dilemma for Rainsy – if he returns, he will go to jail. And if he doesn’t, the public will lose trust in him,” Eysan said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said: “They have both gone to extremes for their egos and power, engaging in a duel to the death, leaving no room for any compromise and ignoring the welfare of the people.”

Sok Touch, the president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said on Sunday that Hun Sen’s bet could not be accepted by Rainsy, and Rainsy’s could not be accepted by Hun Sen.

He said the position of prime minister came from national elections held every five years, and Hun Sen should not step down from power just because Rainsy had returned.

He said doing so would go against the Constitution.

“The Constitution states that every five years there are national elections. The transition of power comes through elections, not by Rainsy stepping foot on Cambodian soil.

“Secondly, the bet by Hun Sen is something Rainsy would be happy to respond to. [Hun Sen and Raisy] keep challenging back and forth, but that’s not in line with the law,” Touch said.

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