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After Illness, Hun Sen Issues Warning to Rivals

  • Heng Reaksmey
  • VOA Khmer

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday gave only his third public address since reportedly falling ill with swine flu last month.

Speaking in front of Svay Rieng University and appearing healthy, Hun Sen warned would-be detractors that he would tightly hold onto power, and he promised to be the leader of the country in both 2013 and 2018 general elections.

Hun Sen and five cabinet members were reported to have fallen ill with the the H1N1 virus last month, causing the cancelation of several high-level meetings, including with a delegation of German diplomats.

“The opposition party has been talking about my health since my absence,” Hun Sen said. “They say that I was kept in the house or that I fled Cambodia.”

Hun Sen said this could have inferred a coup d'etat and he warned that if such an event took place, Cambodia would erupt into open violence.

“Whoever dares to commit a coup d'etat, they should have a head of iron,” he said.

Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, declined to comment on Hun Sen's statements. “I want Cambodian people to judge his speech,” he said.