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

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a