Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Germany’s Merkel sends PM ‘congratulations’ on poll win

Germany’s Merkel sends PM ‘congratulations’ on poll win

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen signs in before the inaugural meeting of the latest mandate of his ruling Cambodian People’s Party government last week. Pha Lina

Germany’s Merkel sends PM ‘congratulations’ on poll win

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel became the first leader of a Western democracy to congratulate Prime Minister Hun Sen on his party’s landslide victory in the July 29 national elections, issuing a letter wishing him success over the course of his new term of office.

Observers, however, were divided as to the message behind the seemingly positive missive.

The move differs from the stance of Merkel’s Western allies and comes after Germany joined Australia France, the UK, Canada, Sweden and Bulgaria in not attending Wednesday’s opening of parliament.

While most of the embassies did not give reasons for their non-attendance, the US and EU embassies said their ambassadors were “unable to attend” the event.

Australia was the most vocal, saying on Tuesday that it would not be represented due to the “flawed election process” after the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November.

The Cambodian People’s Party’s (CPP) landslide victory in the poll led to a one-party National Assembly – controlled by the prime minister’s CPP – for the first time in the Kingdom’s modern history.

“Our countries and people have enjoyed good relations. The friendship between our countries has been expressed not least by the cooperation in development policy over many years,” Merkel’s letter says.

“This cooperation has been based on the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement, which also provides for the respect for human rights, the rule of law [and] democratic principles, as well as fair and free elections.

“In the great task of strengthening democracy and participation through an open political dialogue in your country, you can count on Germany. I wish you a happy hand and all the best for the important tasks coming upon you,” her letter continues.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said he appreciated Merkel’s letter and insisted the new government was born out of the will of the people.

“This is the decision and evaluation by Germany in respect to the choice of the Cambodian people. Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen respects the will and the decision of the Cambodian people,” he said.

Ou Chanrath, a former lawmaker with the CNRP, also saw Merkel’s letter in a positive light.

From the contents of the letter, he said, Germany still hoped there would be a solution to the Cambodian political situation, with the European power willing to keep the door open to dialogue.

“It is a protocol letter, but I see that Germany wants to keep good relations with Cambodia and find a way for dialogue. The political strategy of some countries is that they don’t want to be hostile or confrontational in a way that [makes dialogue difficult].

“So they want to ease the problems by paving the way to and being a bridge for dialogue. I applaud and welcome the efforts of Germany. It is a good thing,” he said.

However, political analyst Lao Mong Hay interpreted the opposite from Merkel’s letter. He said it was clearly a business-like letter – undiplomatic, terse and straight to the point.

He claims it was designed to remind Hun Sen of his responsibilities under the Paris Peace Agreement, which was the basis of cooperation between Germany and Cambodia.

“It’s a notification to our prime minister to honour his Paris Peace Agreement obligations regarding human rights, the rule of law and democracy, and to engage in dialogue with the opposition. He might face consequences if he fails to heed it,” Mong Hay said.

He said it was different from the Chinese Prime Minister’s letter, which lent support to Hun Sen and his government and added to the existing cooperation between China and Cambodia.

The congratulations from other countries, he claimed, came as protocol letters to offer support for the new government and the ruling party.

Meanwhile, Hun Sen is due to make his first official visit as prime minister on Monday, leading a high-level delegation to attend the 15th China-Asean Expo in Nanning city, in China’s Guangxi province, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The expo is due to close on Wednesday. The prime minister is expected to deliver key remarks during its opening.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42