Caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday called out former opposition leader Sam Rainsy and swore on his life that the latter’s claims of inflated voter turnout figures or intimidation surrounding the July 29 national elections were unfounded.
Speaking during a Council of Ministers ceremony honouring athletes who are due to compete at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Hun Sen dared Rainsy, the leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Movement (CNRM), to gamble their lives on whether the voter turnout figures were inflated.
“You dare make accusations that voter turnout was inflated and people were intimidated. Would you dare to swear by it? If you dare, you can respond through Facebook now!” Hun Sen thundered.
He was responding to accusations by Rainsy that the July 29 poll results were faked. A number of Western countries who did not observe the voting allege that it was flawed and unfair, while observers from several Asian countries said it was fair and well run.
“Now I would like to make a vow. I swear to die. As long as the devil wants me to die, I can be dead by getting hit by a car, through a plane crash, an electric shock, get struck by lightning or whatever . . . Do you dare to make a vow like this? I have pushed you up against a wall,” Hun Sen said.
He defended the preliminary figures showing that more than 82 per cent of the over eight million registered voters turned up at the polls.
“Voter turnout was nearly 83 per cent. You had more than 17 [per cent] who did not show up to vote. We won the election. What do you think? People all over the country showed up to vote and clear the voter list!” he said.
Hun Sen also confirmed that Rainsy would not be pardoned in the legal cases against him and that he would have to return to the Kingdom and serve prison time if he wanted forgiveness.
Rainsy now resides in France.
Hun Sen stated that he wasn’t afraid of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).
“[Rainsy] is the one who is afraid. How many elections have you already competed in with me? Why have you never won over me? You participated in the previous elections, so why did the Cambodian People’s Party [CPP] still win?” Hun Sen asked.
Former CNRP lawmaker Cheam Channy claimed that the oath was simply an excuse.
“The truth is that the election was fake. There were intimidations, so there is no way voter turnout could have reached 82 per cent,” he said.
When asked if he dared to swear that the election was fake, Channy claimed he dared to do so but was quick to add that he believes swearing against Hun Sen had no benefit. “I wish not to be involved in this business [of swearing] because it is useless,” he claimed.
Rainsy responded to Hun Sen’s comments on Monday by harkening back to the 2013 election.
“As for the 2018 election results, I answer like in 2013 – count the ballot first and swear afterwards. The CNRP did not participate in the fake election and the figure that the CPP and the National Election Committee presented were lies, mostly about the voter turnout rate which was inflated.”
Rainsy called for an international and independent institution to conduct a survey to find the real voter turnout rate. He additionally called for a recount of the ballots with special attention paid to the number of invalid papers.
Responding to calls for an independent investigation, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the Kingdom wouldn’t heed the requests of a former opposition party leader.
“Rainsy does not value the voters’ will, the results of the election, or the election itself. He is an opportunist who claims irregularity in the elections or election results. The NEC has done its best,
“He did whatever he could to destabilise the elections and take away its legitimacy to gain political power ... he tried to find outside influencers to interfere in Cambodia … so we do not care about his remarks,” Siphan said.
Commenting on the matter, political analyst Meas Ny said former leaders of the CNRP should take Hun Sen up on his challenge in order to prove they had basis for their accusations.
“Swearing is a good thing. I think whether they like it or not, people still believe in oaths. Swearing is a method to show his ideology, but the penalties are just imaginary,” he said.
“When we talk about swearing, the CNRP has nothing to lose. [Hun Sen] also cannot force people to swear,” he said.