A Change of Guard

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Thursday, 9 February 2017

What will happen if Hun Sen dissolves CNRP?

[Image credit RFA]

By Khmer Wathanakam

As election has drawn near, political environment has heat up to the highest point since post-election crisis in 2013. Currently when CNRP's popularity has surged all over the country and Khmer communities around the world, it makes Hun Sen nervous and feared of losing election. In order to gain his confidence and to maintain his power indefinitely, Hun Sen has used his same old trick to break up his main political rivals, CNRP, the most viable force that Hun Sen has a good reason to fear. Yet Hun Sen has failed to break up CNRP by using his same old trick. Failing to break up CNRP by using his old trick and furious with accusation from CNRP's president Sam Rainsy on Dr. Kem Ley murder case, scandal with bride with Thy Sovantha, involved K-5 plant that costed thousands of Cambodia life, and many other defamation cases, Hun Sen now retaliates with plotting his new strategy to bar convicted persons from becoming a political party president, vice president including the whole central committee of the party, and possibly to dissolve the parties.  This Hun Sen's new tactic if moves forward, it is a serious violation of the constitution and the Paris Peace Accord which has guaranteed the multi-political party system in Cambodia. And without CNRP's participation, the election will be meaningless and invalid.

Hun Sen has won five terms of election consecutively without giving his opponents equal playing field. He has controlled all state apparatus--military, police, court, NEC, finance, media and so forth; now although he still holds firmly on the state apparatus, he may feel not safe enough to win the upcoming election. To make him feel more confidence to win, he has to find all means to weaken and to destroy his opponents: plot sex scandal against CNRP's leadership, order court to convict and jail his opponents and critics on his will, and more seriously plan to create new law to ban his opponents from becoming the party president and dissolve the party if they have been convicted by his court. Hun Sen's new tactic may pose a great threat to democracy and the end of multi-party system in  Cambodia because the key player in the arena, CNRP, would be dissolved and its leaders: Sam Rainsy, Kem Sokha, and the whole CNRP's central committee members would be barred from politics in five years. This new law not affect only on CNRP but with other smaller party leaders too: Prince Ranaridh, Mam Sodando, and Sourn Sereyratha; they used to be the convicted persons too. Nonetheless, all these political leaders-- Sam Rainsy, Kem Sokha, Ranaridh, Mam Sonando, and Sourn Sereyratha-- are political prisoners or the prisoners of conscience, none of them are the convicted criminal. Probably Hun Sen who wants the law to bar them from politics is a real criminal based on his actions from the past to present.

If Hun Sen successes in creating this controversial new law to ban CNRP's leaders and the others from politics and dissolve the parties, he can't do it without great risk. He will be strongly condemned from the people, the international community, and the UN, for Cambodia has the Paris Peace Accord and the constitution that guarantee the multi-party political system.  And in this upcoming election if no CNRP's participation in the contest, the main opposition party to Hun Sen, there will be no credible and valid election. And if Hun wins again, his new government will lose legitimacy that Hun Sen needs it and fears it most because he used to rule the country without legitimacy or recognition from the UN and international community twice in the 1980s and 1997, and he felt how hard it was without legitimacy and the Cambodian seat in the UN. Nowadays, Cambodia is dependent on foreign aids, trades, and investments more than ever before. If Hun Sen goes ahead with his plan to dissolve CNRP prior to the upcoming elections, there will be more likely a strong reaction from donor countries and the Paris Peace Accord signatories, namely  US, EU, Japan, Australia... because in the upcoming election they see only CNRP is the real and viable opposition party to the ruling party, CPP. Without CNRP in the election process, the international community won't recognize the election result and Hun Sen regime will be punished by economic sanction from the West.

If the main donor countries--EU, Japan, US, and Australia-- cut all their financial aids, curb the number of tourists, and stop buying all products from Cambodia: clothing, rice, fruits... Cambodia economy will fall down sharply. All clothing factories which have hired nearly one million workers will be shut down and those workers will lose their job. As Donor cut off their financial aids and foreign trades sharply reduce, Hun Sen regime will face budget crisis, for foreign financial aids and tax revenue from foreign trades are the big source for national budget. If economic sanction from the West go in effect, there will be no economic sector in the country can get immune from this economic sanction such as tourism, banking system, property value, constructions, and small businesses, all will hit hard. Hun Sen may look to China and some ASEAN members to fill up this gap but far from enough. As most poor workers lose their job and rich people see their property value drop, they create more social and political instability for the regime--expect more protests, more crimes, and more worker migration to seek job outside the country.

To avoid this economic destruction for the country, the two main political parties must step back from their current rhetoric and give up all ill wills in negotiation. The only way to break through the current political crisis is to resume negotiation based on mutual respect and no trick and pressure put on the other side. The main goal of negotiation is to reduce tension and create a more peaceful environment for the election that all parties have the right to participate in a free and fair process. Hun Sen should reconsider to drop his plan to create a controversial law to ban his opponents from politics and dissolve the opposition parties. And Sam Rainsy should refrain from all political attacks on Hun Sen and CPP's leadership, it's a counter productive to his party and himself. He should stay quiet for awhile to wait and see how far Hun Sen can go to dissolve CNRP.  If Hun Sen cannot back down from his current position and not allow all parties to participate in the election process, Hun Sen is more likely to rule the country without legitimacy again, and Cambodia will definitely faces the political and economic crisis in the near future. And the nation and the people will bear all the burdens.

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