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‘Cambodia’s people the losers of UN division’

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Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath visits Prey Sar prison in August. Heng Chivoan

‘Cambodia’s people the losers of UN division’

A former Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker hit back at government claims on Tuesday that opposition rallies to protest Hun Sen’s appearance as prime minister at the UN had failed, saying the fact that such a political divide existed proved only that the Kingdom and its people were the ultimate losers.

A Hun Sen-led government delegation returned to Cambodia on Monday afternoon after four days in the US attending the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

During his trip, the prime minister met other government leaders from around the world and Cambodian-American supporters.

Hun Sen also encountered protests led by former CNRP leaders who demanded the international community not recognise Cambodia’s new government, which they said was created from a “fake election” on July 29 as the Supreme Court-dissolved CNRP could not take part.

Spokesperson for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) Sok Eysan said on Tuesday that the opposition’s efforts to protest in the US were “a great failure”.

“The opposition party did not want Prime Minister Hun Sen to go to the UN, but Samdech Hun Sen still successfully led his Cambodian government delegation to New York."

“Cambodia’s seat at the UN was held by the Cambodian government without any prevention as claimed by ill-intentioned people."

“The demonstrations could not hamper the mission of the Cambodian government delegation. There are thousands of Cambodian people who [believe in] justice and support the CPP,” he said. “They welcomed the government delegates led by Samdech Techo Hun Sen and made the opposition party lose face.”

Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath, said he believed the Cambodian government and the CNRP both were successful in their efforts in the US, but it was the Kingdom and its people that are being failed as a result of Cambodia’s political conflict.

“The two parties seem to have been successful individually in my observation. Yet the real losers on the international stage are the Cambodian people and Cambodia because we have shown both opposition and support [to the government]."

“It showed the international community that Cambodia is not unified internally. Other countries try to help us because they know Cambodia has internal problems,” he claimed.

Chanrath said the only losers are the Cambodian people if the country still faced conflict and had problems. “The people do not get any advantage from political conflict. They only face problems, politically, economically and regarding human rights issues,” he said.

Council of Ministers spokesperson Phay Siphan issued a statement in response to foreigners and Cambodian-Americans, saying the new government was created from the will of the Cambodian people.

“Besides cooperation and respect between nations and other foreign organisations, Cambodia reserves all rights to govern its own fate. Accusations were made to stir up trouble and violate Cambodia’s sovereignty, which is not acceptable,” he said.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan added that: “They didn’t want Samdech Techo [Hun Sen] to set foot in the US, but Samdech has already successfully led his government delegation there. Cambodia’s seat at the UN has also been maintained by the royal government . . . no suspension as claimed by ill-intended individuals. All the above-mentioned points have proved the utter, humiliating failure of both Cambodians and foreigners who have always had an ambition to destroy Cambodia."

Chanrath dismissed Siphan’s statement claiming “accusations” violated Cambodia’s sovereignty as “ridiculous”.

“I want to laugh, because Cambodia is a signatory on agreements and other treaties with foreign countries on the international stage. This country was helped by the international community."

“Cambodia had walked on the democratic path since the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1991, and in 1993 the UN helped us organise our first election,” he said.

“The international community has helped us walk the democratic path. This did not help their countries but benefited Cambodia.

Analyst Meas Nee said he also believed the CPP and former CNRP had succeeded in their goals in New York, in which the former had the opportunity to address the world at the UNGA, while the opposition party could protest to show the international community its anger at the new government.

However, the act of pointing fingers at each other, he said, showed that the country was “very divided”.

“We damage the country’s reputation when we show the world that the Kingdom is very divided."

“We are not only divided inside the country, but also divided in front of the international community."

“When our leaders took part at the UNGA, we had [government] supporters and protesters in the same place . . . it showed that Cambodia is not united,” he claimed.

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