Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman Sok Eysan on Monday hit back at claims from former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of being fearful about his potential return to Cambodia, as well as his speculation of an internal rift in the CPP.
Eysan said the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), of which Rainsy is “acting president”, was instead “having a serious internal rift” of its own.
On December 23, Rainsy said the prime minister is in “fear” because he has failed in his efforts to drive a wedge between him and former CNRP president Kem Sokha.
And on Friday, Rainsy wrote on his official Facebook page that he will return to Cambodia in 2019, and also appealed to all CNRP supporters to not fall for Hun Sen’s tricks by returning to politics via the amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties.
He said that “under international pressure” Hun Sen may be forced to release Sokha, who is currently at home on bail following treason charges in 2017.
Eysan responded to Rainsy’s comments via messaging app Telegram: “Rainsy said Hun Sen has failed in dividing him and Sokha. But, in fact, Rainsy and Sokha have already broken up and it cannot be hidden.”
He said Hun Sen has “prepared handcuffs” for Rainsy’s return as he has been sentenced for several crimes in absentia by the courts, saying when “he arrives in Cambodia, he will be arrested”. He said Rainsy and the opposition living abroad “are experiencing serious internal rift”.
Eysan also denied that the Cambodian government is experiencing heavy international pressure.
“Rainsy said the Cambodian government is facing firm international pressure. In fact, Hun Sen and the Cambodian government are energetically leading the country with sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, national pride and identity on the international stage with the support of Cambodian people nationwide,” he wrote.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan on Monday also accused Rainsy of controlling his supporters and creating information to attack the CPP.
“He just shouts to attract attention and he creates information to console his supporters. There is no rift in the CPP since 1990. It is just psychological warfare to say there will be a change in 2019 . . . it is the mobilisation of supporters to stop them from leaving him,” he said.
Siphan said that Cambodia does not respond to international pressure, saying they did “not need anyone to recognise our government”.
Political analyst Meas Nee said the opposition should find a strategy for suppressing its rift rather than hoping for a rift in the ruling party.
“A rift will not happen easily in the CPP . . . but the opposition is very fragile. If the opposition leaders do not think about measures to prevent accusations between each other, the rift will become worse and worse,” he said.
Fellow political analyst Ouk Serei Sopheak said the opposition’s accusations were nothing new.
“We have seen the opposition party accusing the ruling party of having internal problems almost every year. The ruling party has been in power for over 30 years already, so it has strong solidarity."
“Despite some disagreements over this or that issue, they still have the same political line and there is no rift,” he said.