Sam Serey, exiled leader of the Khmer National Liberation Front, on Tuesday blasted former opposition leader Sam Rainsy for actively encouraging international sanctions against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government.
In a Monday speech, Mr Hun Sen said “any sanctions imposed by the European Union amounts to killing the opposition party in Cambodia,” adding that he will not use the country’s independence and sovereignty as bargaining chips with foreign countries.
Mr Rainsy fired back on Facebook Tuesday.
“Don’t punish and scapegoat millions of opposition supporters for the expected European Union sanctions,” he said.
“I, Sam Rainsy, am the only who has been actively encouraging international sanctions against your dictatorial regime,” Mr Rainsy added. “If you want to avoid those sanctions because you care about the well-being of the Cambodian people, you just have to reverse your repressive policies and start negotiations with the European Union in order to restore democracy in Cambodia.”
The statement drew ire from Mr Serey who is accused by the authorities for being an armed rebel leader against the government.
Mr Serey criticised Mr Rainsy responding to Mr Hun Sen.
“Sam Rainsy is an opportunist; any attempt to sanction Cambodia is not because of opposition or Sam Rainsy himself,” he said. “It would be the EU who’d want to apply sanctions because they think human rights are being violated in Cambodia.”
“I do not support the opposition because they do not think about happiness of the people and what benefits them,” Mr Serey added. “Their acts caused losses for our nation and put us in a social crisis.”
Mr Serey who was in a past interview with Khmer Times called Mr Rainsy a liar and a demagogue, saying that Mr Rainsy should instead find a solution with the government instead of provoking conflict.
“What the most important thing is that the opposition and the government find a solution together so that the people of the nation can benefit,” he said. “Avoid making the nation lose benefits because of an individual conflict.”
He noted, however, that the dissolution of an opposition party is in contrast to what the international community wants from the government.
Former opposition lawmaker Ou Chanrath on Tuesday said that Mr Serey had the right to express his opinion.
“If they do not respect the principles of human rights and democracy, the international community will still put pressure on the government because the government had committed itself when they signed an agreement with the EU to improve human rights and democracy,” he said.
“I do not know who exactly is encouraging sanctions, but I see that some opposition leaders want a solution,” Mr Chanrath said. “However, there hasn’t been a resolution so far, so the benefits from what they’re appealing for is very little.”
“Mr Serey was also expressing his view point – whether the EU chooses to withdraw EBA or not that’s just talk at the moment,” he added. “Like it or not, the decision belongs to the EU – we don’t know. It doesn’t mean that they want to mistreat Cambodia. The EU just wants democracy to return while the opposition also wants democracy to return.”