Sam Rainsy calls for the "democratic symbol" Kem Sokha / លោក សម រង្ស៊ី អំពាវនាវឱ្យមាន "និមិត្តរូបប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ" កឹម សុខា

ចែករំលែក ៖​

១៩ កុម្ភៈ ២០២៣ / 19 February 2023

អត្ថបទលោក សម រង្ស៊ី ក្នុងសារព័ត៌មានអន្តរជាតិ Gavroche ជាភាសាអង់គ្លេស ចុះផ្សាយថ្ងៃទី ១៨ ខែកុម្ភៈ ឆ្នាំ២០២៣ មានចំណងជើងថា "Sam Rainsy calls for the "democratic symbol" Kem Sokha" (លោក សម រង្ស៊ី អំពាវនាវឱ្យមាន "និមិត្តរូបប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ" កឹម សុខា)

CAMBODIA – POLITICS: Sam Rainsy calls for the "democratic symbol" Kem Sokha

Published: 18-02-2023

Gavroche publishes exclusively an op-ed by exiled opponent Sam Rainsy on his successor Kem Sokha, now under house arrest.

When I resigned from the presidency of the National Salvation Party (NSP) on February 11, 2017 to make way for my Vice President Kem Sokha, I did not know that I was going to give him a poisoned gift. He was arrested in the middle of the night at his home on 3 September of the same year to be imprisoned in harsh conditions for a year. Deprived of all his political rights, he was then placed under house arrest for more than a year before being subjected to a regime of semi-liberty until today, pending trial for "sedition" and "treason".

To avoid the dissolution of the PSN I had to give up the leadership of the party because I knew that Prime Minister Hun Sen was going to pass an amendment to the electoral law that would target me directly and personally. This amendment will actually be voted on by a rump assembly on February 20. It prohibits any convicted person from leading a political party on pain of its dissolution. It specifically targets, but without saying so, any "convicted" that the authorities cannot arrest because he is outside Cambodia, which was already my case. The "tailor-made" nature of this amendment becomes even clearer if one recalls that Hun Sen had already had me previously sentenced, in absentia, to heavy prison terms by a court under orders for purely political "crimes".

Hun Sen seeks any pretext to eliminate opposition

My resignation was useless because Hun Sen had already decided, anyway, to dissolve the PSN. He was ready to invent any other excuse to no longer have to confront this party. It represents, for the first time in Cambodia's modern history, the united democratic opposition whose electoral successes seriously threatened the regime in place: 44% of the vote in both the legislative elections of 28 July 2013 and the communal elections of 4 June 2017, despite serious irregularities in favour of the ruling party noted by all independent observers.

The local elections of 4 June 2017 were particularly worrying for Hun Sen because the opposition's score in a local election is expected to fall compared to the previous national poll. This last election in which the PSN participated shows that the opposition has considerably and in a very short time developed its local presence, thus breaking the grip of the ruling party, ex-communist, whose network of cells very closely controls the population even in the smallest village.

Having already "gotten rid of" me, Hun Sen had to turn against Kem Sokha, the new president of the PSN. As he had not yet been the subject of a judicial conviction to invoke the amendment to the electoral law above, it was necessary to "stick" one. Hence his surprise arrest and the even more surprising accusation of "sedition" and "treason" brought against him at the last minute, interpreting in a grotesque way a banal speech he had made in Australia ... four years ago.

But Hun Sen has doubled down and has gone faster and further than the amendment to the electoral law allows: on 16 November, two months after Kem Sokha's arrest, he dissolved the PSN on the pretext of a simple accusation against its president even though he has not yet been tried or convicted. For Hun Sen, it was necessary to eliminate the PSN at all costs and as soon as possible in view of the parliamentary elections of July 2018. In retrospect, Hun Sen made a "judicious" calculation since, without any real opposition, his party won 100% of the seats in these July 2018 elections.

Kem Sokha remains the key man of the situation

But it is Kem Sokha's treatment so far that is likely to ruin everything for Hun Sen. His trial for "attempting to overthrow the government with U.S. support" has dragged on for more than five years. It is a big ridge across Hun Sen's throat forced to show his true face as an unscrupulous dictator. Indeed, the trial of Kem Sokha cannot move forward due to a lack of serious evidence. It cannot be abandoned either because exonerating Kem Sokha by withdrawing the false accusations against him, would ipso facto lead to the rehabilitation of the PSN, which could then participate in the next legislative elections on 23 July 2023. But the prospect of such a resurgence of the PSN is a waking nightmare for Hun Sen!

Exonerating Kem Sokha and rehabilitating the PSN are two inseparable parts of a solution to the political crisis in the country, if democratic principles are to be respected and at the same time justice is to be done to a man who has become a symbol of the Cambodian people's aspiration for freedom.

There is no other way to explain why the highest representatives of democratic nations make it a point of honour to meet Kem Sokha, much to Hun Sen's chagrin, every time they pass through Phnom Penh. This was the case most recently with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who insisted on meeting Kem Sokha during his one-day stay in Phnom Penh on February 15. Among those who have also insisted on meeting Kem Sokha, sometimes to everyone's surprise, over the past six months are US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the second highest EU leader Josep Borrell Fontelles, and Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong.

Even deprived of all his political rights and officially banned from all political activities, Kem Sokha remains a key man by his title of president of the PSN, a party that represents a great political force whose popular legitimacy Hun Sen cannot erase with the stroke of a pen.

Sam Rainsy

Source: CAMBODIA - POLITICS: Sam Rainsy calls for the "democratic symbol" Kem Sokha - Gavroche Thailand (

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