Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said his government would not allow violence to return to Cambodian politics, reminding Cambodians of an alleged attempt on his life in 1998.
According to Hun Sen, in September 1998 while traveling to Siem Reap his car was targeted by an attacker with a B40 rocket-propelled grenade. The rocket missed Hun Sen’s convoy and struck a nearby house, killing one civilian, he said.
Since his Cambodian People’s Party won all 125 seats in parliament in a general election in July, Hun Sen has been keen to emphasize that he sees the CPP, and more importantly his rule at the head of the party, as the only force standing between Cambodians and a return to civil war and the political violence of decades past.
“If I died back then, what would have happened? Would the war have ended because of my win-win policy like when I lived? This question needs to be answered,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“I have already forgiven those who wanted to kill me in Siem Reap ... I will not let you kill me, lead a coup or revolution. No matter what, I have to protect peace and Cambodian citizens,” he said.
Sok Eysan, a CPP spokesman, said the 1998 incident was carried out by a man named Sok Yeoung, who claimed to be an activist working for Sam Rainsy, the former head of Cambodia’s opposition who now lives in exile in France.
Eysan declined to comment on the specifics of the evidence in the case against Yeoung, who fled to Finland after the allegations were made.
Rainsy, however, has claimed that the 1998 incident was orchestrated by Hun Sen himself as a pretext to frame Yeoung and place the blame on Rainsy’s supporters.
“He claimed that somebody attempted to murder him, but it was all staged to frame Sam Rainsy’s activists and the Khmer National Party that was also formed by me. So I was his main target. He went after my activists, arrested them and forced them to put the blame on me,” Rainsy said.
“Sok Yoeung was accepted to live in Finland as an asylum seeker. Finland was a democratic country in Europe, so they would not accept a criminal. They know who was being mistreated by the Hun Sen regime.
Rainsy had rejected the election results of 1998, which saw Hun Sen’s CPP win a majority.