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Chavez Victory Likened to Hun Sen’s Aims

Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy sent a letter of congratulations to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, mocking Prime Minister Hun Sen’s apparent desire to stay in power.

Chavez won a referendum on Sunday that will allow him to run for office with no limits.

In an open letter issued Monday, Sam Rainsy thanked Chavez for winning the referendum—by 54 percent of the vote—and said the victory reminded him of Hun Sen, who has been in power since the 1980s.

“Like you, our prime minister wants to stay in power forever, or at least—he says—until he reaches the age of 90,” Sam Rainsy wrote. “He has been in power since the early 80s, and we would have to be patient with him for another 30 years. But unlike you, he doesn’t bother at all to seek to know whether his people want him to remain at the head of their country for so long, possibly for two (lost) generations.”

Cheam Yiep, a lawmaker for Hun Sen’s Camboidan People’s Party, said Monday Sam Rainsy should struggle harder to win future elections, but he was free to say what he liked in letters.

Cambodia’s next national elections will be held in 2013, and Hun Sen has openly declared he plans to run for prime minister again.