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Groups Lament Attacks in Hun Sen Speeches


In recent speeches, Prime Minister Hun Sen has blasted both his coalition partner and the opposition party.

Party officials said this week they were not worried the speeches would hurt them in the upcoming national election, but at least one rights worker said the speeches were disappointing in their negativity.

Over the past month, Hun Sen has publicly mocked the Sam Rainsy Party, especially following defections of party members to the CPP.

On March 8, speaking during a groundbreaking ceremony in Pursat province, Hun Sen not only criticized Sam Rainsy, but also Funcinpec, the government coalition partner, for defections.

In addition, Hun Sen warned Funcinpec last week not to campaign on a platform that a vote for Funcinpec was a vote for the CPP. If you want Hun Sen as prime minister, he said, you vote CPP.

Prince Sisowath Siriwath, a high-ranking member of Funcinpec, denied the party would campaign this way, adding that he was not worried the prime minister's speeches would hurt the party's popularity.

Eng Chhai Eang, secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party, said Hun Sen's criticism reflected his fear of a loss of power. Such speeches attacked the "main rival" of the ruling party, the opposition, he said.

The speeches marked a negativity ahead of the campaign that should be avoided, one leading rights worker said.

Kek Galabru, president of Licadho, said that she did not want to see politicians criticize each other. Rather, she said, they should inform voters of the principals of the party.

The Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec should still be considered competitors against the CPP, as both have seats in parliament, said Koul Panha, executive director of Committee for Free and Fair Elections. Voters could change their minds about parties, so the CPP must be cautious about the two, he said.

Cambodia has 57 political parties, but only 44 of them have registered at the Interior Ministry, Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak, Interior Ministry spokesman, said, five more than in the last national election.

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