Despite the fact that only three parties have been registered with the NEC for this year’s national elections, Hun Sen predicted on Thursday that 13 or 14 political parties would eventually be eligible, prompting ex-opposition official Sam Rainsy to quip that the figures from the “good fortuneteller” may have already been decided.
The premier’s statement was made on Thursday morning during the second day of his meetings with nearly 20,000 workers in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town.
He continued to call out Rainsy, his political rival who is the leader of the Cambodian National Rescue Movement (CNRM).
“I was told that 12 political parties have deposited money with the national treasury, thus it is expected that around 13 to 14 political parties will participarticipate in the upcoming election,” Hun Sen said.
“If you [Rainsy] prevent the others from going to vote, you are wrong and will be punished. But, being in self-exile or jail, one cannot obstruct the democratic process,” he added, referring to Rainsy, who is living in Paris, and Kem Sokha, the former CNRP president who remains in pretrial detention under treason charges.
Party registrations for the July 29 poll were opened on April 30, and will close on May 14, according to the NEC.
Dim Sovannarom, spokesman for the NEC, said there are three political parties that have been officially approved by Sik Bunhok, the president of the NEC, as of May 7. They are the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), the Cambodian Youth Party (CYP) and the Cambodian Nationality Party (CNP).
He added that two additional parties have submitted their applications to the NEC, the Khmer National United Party and Funcinpec, while nine other political parties are preparing to deposit 15 million riel ($3,750) with the treasury.
Sovannarom refused to provide a direct answer when asked whether the prime minister’s remark was interference into the NEC’s process saying: “[The] NEC is working with strong transparency and its information helps people know about registration.”
Rainsy, responding to Hun Sen’s statements from Washington, DC, where he was set to meet Cambodian supporters, said in an email to The Post that the prime minister is a “very good fortuneteller”.
“Mr Hun Sen is either a very good fortuneteller or a dictator who decides and orders everything, openly or behind the scene, as he pleases,” he said, claiming the premier was creating “judicial pretexts to keep me further from the election process”.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay, referring to the prime minister’s call to officials on Monday to facilitate the registration for all parties, said, “Our prime minister already encouraged political parties to participate in the planned general election. As a rule, his words are heeded by officials. His prediction could well become a reality.”
Hun Sen additionally addressed Rainsy’s calls for the international community to stop buying exported products from and investing in Cambodia as “an act of treason”.
“It would not be Hun Sen, but the workers who would die if the factories close down,” he said. “It is treason”.
The prime minister also condemned Rainsy over “signing a secret agreement” to grant autonomy to Montagnard refugees in four northeastern provinces, including Stung Treng, Kratie, Ratanakkiri, and Mondulkiri.
“[Rainsy] has not received power yet, but has already promised to give away four provinces,” Hun Sen said. “What would you even do when you got the power?”