Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM tells CNRP’s Sokha to back off

PM tells CNRP’s Sokha to back off

Prime Minister Hun Sen had sharp words for opposition deputy Kem Sokha in a speech yesterday in Phnom Penh
Prime Minister Hun Sen had sharp words for opposition deputy Kem Sokha in a speech yesterday in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

PM tells CNRP’s Sokha to back off

Prime Minister Hun Sen warned deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha yesterday that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party could easily remove him as first deputy president of parliament at any time – the first sign of brewing conflict between the pair since Sokha took the job late last month.

The threat came just days after Sokha promised a crowd of party members in Siem Reap that he would use the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s newfound power in the National Assembly – along with the help of a few CPP lawmakers – to summons and vote out long-serving and “corrupt” government ministers.

Speaking to several thousand people during the groundbreaking for a new overpass in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district yesterday, Hun Sen asked Sokha for a “ceasefire”.

“It is the period of Pchum Ben. We should celebrate the festival and avoid insulting each other. [We should] not be touring [and talking to people] for political gain,” the premier said, without referring to Sokha by name. “Wherever you go, you find ways to talk about voting out the prime minister and ministers.”

Since being voted in as first deputy president in parliament on August 26, an arrangement prescripted under a political deal signed between the CPP and CNRP on July 22, Sokha has also pledged to try and introduce prime ministerial term limits this mandate.

As he implored Sokha to back off yesterday, Hun Sen cited comments made by CNRP leader Sam Rainsy last month, in which he hailed the freshly filled parliament as part of a new dawn of political reconciliation in Cambodia.

“I would like to send a message that we must have a ceasefire. And we are not the same as in Ukraine [where a recent ceasefire was broken]. We have said that we will work together,” the premier said. “If you [the CNRP] want to vote out ministers, it’s OK, but we can also vote out the first deputy president of the National Assembly.… It is the same, and it will go back and forth.”

Despite new power-sharing arrangements, the CPP still holds a seven-to-six majority on the assembly’s permanent standing committee and an absolute majority on the floor of parliament, Hun Sen pointed out.

Speaking to the Post yesterday, Sokha said the prime minister had no right to pressure him to stifle criticism of government ministers, given that the CNRP was not in a coalition government.

“I think that he is very worried, and his speech means to defend corrupt officials. It is contrary to his speech [last year] in which he called on his own cabinet to clean themselves up,” Sokha said, before explaining what exactly he had promised CNRP district and commune councillors on Saturday in Siem Reap town.

“I talked about legal issues, and I just explained to the people that according to the internal regulations of the National Assembly, 30 lawmakers can raise a motion to [summons and] accuse a corrupt [minister], who can then be voted out if a majority is obtained – for which the CNRP only needs seven votes from the CPP.”

MOST VIEWED

  • CNRP supporters rally in the streets of Tokyo

    Supporters of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Monday rallied on the streets of Tokyo, demanding Prime Minister Hun Sen’s resignation and urging the Japanese government to “save democracy in the Kingdom”. Some 400 protesters in the rally, which was organised by

  • Over 100 Chinese nationals to be deported for online scam

    The Ministry of Interior is planning to deport 128 Chinese nationals after they were arrested in Preah Sihanouk province on Wednesday for their alleged involvement in an online money extortion scam. Y Sokhy, the head of the Department of Counter-terrorism and Transnational Crime, told The Post

  • LPG gas explosion injures 13 people, including foreigners, in Siem Reap

    An explosion on Wednesday at a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) car and tuk-tuk refuelling station in Siem Reap city has left 13 people, including an American and a Briton, suffering burns. The seven most severely burned, including a provincial police officer, were sent to a Thai

  • The French mother navigating the capital in her own personal tuk-tuk

    French woman Cecile Dahome gracefully manoeuvres her tuk-tuk through the manic streets of Phnom Penh with the precision of a Japanese katana before a herd of motorcyclists, attempting to perform illegal U-turns, cuts her off. The riders, like baby ducklings following their mother’s tracks,