‘No negotiation with traitors’: Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen refuses to talk to opposition leaders to resolve stalemate

Despite the forced dissolution last year of the main opposition party, the general election remains scheduled for July 29

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2018, 5:55pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2018, 5:55pm

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen reiterated on Tuesday he will not negotiate with opposition leaders such as Sam Rainsy, former leader of the now-defunct Cambodia National Rescue Party.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony in the capital Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said: “There will be no negotiation with traitors and neither will there be a pardon for the traitors.”

He added that despite the forced dissolution last year of the CNRP, the general election set to be held on July 29 will go ahead as planned.

The remarks come after Sam Rainsy called anew for negotiations with Hun Sen to end the political stalemate following the dissolution.

On Monday, Sam Rainsy posted on his Facebook page, “I continue to believe in the culture of dialogue when it is sincerely implemented, meaning without threats or bullying.”

For Cambodia, a real culture of dialogue must replace the prevailing culture of violence and impunity
Sam Rainsy

“I urge Hun Sen not to take everything personally. I hope he does not do this as a pretext to kill starting a dialogue that could lead to a compromise opening the way for democratic change,” he said.

“For Cambodia, a real culture of dialogue must replace the prevailing culture of violence and impunity, which is a sad legacy from the Khmer Rouge. We all must work together towards that change in mentality. The sooner the better.”

Hun Sen acknowledged that there has been a lot of discussion on the prospects of negotiations following his meeting, on March 23 in Phnom Penh, with Kentaro Sonoura, special adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

He said Sonoura did ask him about the chance of dialogue with opposition leaders including Sam Rainsy. The prime minister added that he will meet with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in Phnom Penh next week to discuss issues not including the opposition.

The CNRP was dissolved in November last year, with all 118 key politicians and leaders of the party being completely banned from politics.

Sam Rainsy has been living in self-imposed exile abroad since late 2015 to avoid a two-year jail sentence for defamation and other convictions that he and observers inside and outside Cambodia say was politically motivated.

He remains one of the most influential Cambodian politicians despite stepping down as leader of the CNRP last year in a failed bid to save it from forced dissolution.