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Hun Sen, Former Opposition Leader in Row Over ‘Loyalty to Royals’

FILE- Prime Minister Hun Sen (left) and Sam Rainsy (right) president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party. (Reuters/Leng Len/VOA Khmer)

Prime Minister Hun Sen has renewed his long-running political row with exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy, this time insinuating the former Cambodia National Rescue Party president is the son of a traitor to the monarchy.

The comments, made via Hun Sen’s Facebook page, while not naming Rainsy, referred to the child of “one who betrayed the king,” an apparent reference to Rainsy’s father, Sam Sary, the former Cambodian ambassador to the United Kingdom during the rule of King Sihanouk.

Sary was accused of conspiring with the United States to overthrow King Sihanouk.

“They are the ones who dismissed our king but I am the one who brought him back,” Hun Sen said.

He added that he also supported the incumbent monarch, King Norodom Sihamoni.

“I have fulfilled my obligation as a Cambodian child not like the children of the ones who betrayed the king. You know already who is the child of the one who betrayed the king,” he said.

Rainsy hit back at Hun Sen shortly after the post was published, claiming that in an argument between the four leading Cambodian factions in 1991 King Sihanouk had responded to a journalist asking why he did not support Hun Sen over Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan by saying while Samphan was a murderer, Hun Sen was both a murderer and a traitor, referring to his backing of the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1979.

Sok Eysan, ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman, said Rainsy would likely not be allowed to return to Cambodia.

“Now firstly, he cannot enter the country. So, how old is he now? He’s 70 years old already. So the question is, how long can Sam Rainsy survive?”