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Hun Sen points finger at Kem Sokha

Hun Sen points finger at Kem Sokha

K EM SOKHA, chairman of the National Assembly's Human Rights Commission, is on the verge of being toppled from his position.

Second Prime Minister Hun Sen has all but called for Sokha's dismissal, hitting out at the commission's "monopoly" on human rights issues in Cambodia.

"I'd like to propose directly to the National Assembly to examine the Human Rights Commission - whether there can be a new component or not," Hun Sen said on July 4.

Speaking at a League of Cambodian Journalists congress, Hun Sen appeared in a tough and outraged mood but gave few clear reasons why he disliked the commission.

He complained that "some are using the [commission] as a forum" and said: "As an MP, I don't want anyone to monopolize human rights issues. Let's set the record straight."

Hun Sen said human rights and democracy were no-one's monopoly and called upon all "democrats" to be realistic in both theory and action.

He said he would not interfere with the National Assembly or its officials but "as an MP I will make a proposal for them to review the work of the [commission] Chairman.

"If its work is not so productive, we can change it."

Sokha, meanwhile, had little doubt that he was heading for a sacking.

"Though I will be removed from the chair of the commission...[it] is not surprising because this is not my mother's inheritance. The two main parties [Funcinpec and CPP] did not expect this commission to be influential. My activity disturbs them. But I've done nothing contrary to the principles of democracy."

Sokha is part of the BLDP faction left out in the cold after rival Ieng Mouly's bid for the party leadership. Both Sokha and his faction colleagues expect to be sacked regardless from the Assembly.

Sokha said he had not asked for his appointment as chairman - though he believed it "was given to me by the people" - but doubted whether he could challenge any dismissal on legal grounds.

"They [Funcinpec and CPP] can achieve whatever they want, no matter whether it is legal or illegal."

Sokha said he had known for a long time that he would be the government's next target, after dissident Sam Rainsy was expelled from the National Assembly.

"I'm prepared to face the pressure on me and to become who I will be in the future."

Hun Sen, meanwhile, indicated that some MPs -by implication, Sokha included - who voted against Sam Rainsy's expulsion from the Assembly last week contradicted themselves by supporting a move to have BLDP's Ieng Mouly outsted.

"This is one case (expulsion), but two actions. What kind of democracy is this? Ieng Mouly and Sam Rainsy are different cases," Hun Sen said, turning to Mouly who was sitting behind and smiling at him in return.

Sokha denies seeking Mouly's expulsion as an MP.

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