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Hun Sen Quells Rumors That the US Pressured Vietnam to Push for His Ouster

Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday there was no truth to rumors the US had pressured the Vietnamese government to remove him as prime minister, while members of the Norodom Ranariddh Party sought to quell suspicion it was behind the hearsay.

At a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen publicly decried rumors he was to be replaced by his deputy, Sok An, and would become president of the National Assembly.

"It is said that the East interferes, and the West puts pressure," Hun Sen said. "After that, it is said clearly that the US puts pressure on Vietnam, and Vietnam puts pressure to have Hun Sen step down. It is said that the pressure is to have deputy prime minister, that is Sok An, to be prime minister. As for me, I will be National Assembly's president."

This was untrue, Hun Sen said.

Cambodia officials said the prime minister was likely referring to rumors in local newspapers that Hun Sen was facing outside pressure to step down after an absence due to illness.

Hun Sen said Wednesday he paid a visit on King Norodom Sihamoni and the Queen "asking about their wellness," not to ask for help remaining in power, which was another rumor.

A delegation of the Norodom Ranariddh Party also paid a call on King Sihamoni, officials said, but this had nothing to do with the rumors of Hun Sen's ouster.

NRP spokesman Muth Chantha said officials met with the king to present a petition asking for a pardon for their party president, Norodom Ranariddh, following his sentencing in absentia to 18 months in prison on charges related to embezzlement.

Prince Ranariddh has filed an appeal to his case as well, Muth Chantha said.

"The main reason that Prince Ranariddh decided to file a suit to the Court of Appeals is that there is no evidence, and no witnesses in the charges," Muth Chantha said. "Furthermore, it seems that the Phnom Penh court judges and prosecutors show a biased position in the implementation of the law in the past."