Cambodia’s Political Deadlock Will Continue

M.H.Tee / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) and Sam Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), smile during a meeting at Cambodia’s National assembly in central Phnom Penh September 17, 2013. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

PHNOM PENH, (Khmer Times) – The political deadlock in Cambodia is forecasted to last longer than initially expected. 
Dr. Chheang Vannarith, a visiting Lecturer at the University of Leeds said the gap of political trust and confidence between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) remains wide. 
“The opposition is determined to push for concrete and certain reforms of the national election committee and an equal playing field in the National Assembly and media. The media issue seems to have been ironed out, but that, too, has become complicated because of added demands.”
In addition, the regional tensions in the South China Sea – especially between China and Vietnam – and the political crisis in Thailand, gives the opposition party certain international strategic opportunities and the space to maneuver. 
“The ruling CPP may fall into a sphere of stronger influence from China, if it does not properly solve domestic political issues and also further distances itself from the West,” he pointed out. 
Dr. Vannarith added, “The opposition will choose to put more pressures on the ruling CPP. It may take another year. The ruling party may loose its legitimacy if it can’t maintain high growth and provide job opportunities for the young workforce.  As long as the ruling party can provide development and justice for its populace, it can maintain its power.
“Failing to do so means that the CPP should be ready to play the role as opposition. It is the nature of politics. Outside influence and overbearing and over diplomatic pressure applied by the pro-opposition friendly nations will sooner or later have an impact on Cambodia in all aspects but importantly in trade, economy and Official Development Assistance (ODA),”Dr. Vannarith said.
Mr. Ou Ritthy, a Co-founder of Politikoffee and political blogger wrote “The CPP is devoted to reforms that would allow it to win the next elections as the CNRP balances demands by its financial backers, the Khmer Diasporas, and the voters, who are the local people in Cambodia. Both groups are CNRP supporters.” 
But they represent two different kinds of fish – from fresh and salt water –, and both have dissimilar understandings, endeavors, demands, ways of life and awareness of social realities and realpolitiks. CNRP leaders find difficulties in securing a political equilibrium between these donors and voters.
The CNRP strategies included mass demonstrations, diplomacy, an International Criminal Court (ICC) lawsuit against Prime Minister Hun Sen and his CPP government, and negotiations with the CPP. The CNRP has applied these strategies to pressure the CPP into accepting its demands.
But the CNRP appears to have run out of effective strategies. Its financial backers and the local voters appear to be tired of these unworkable strategies which have been used time and time again. 
To energize its supporters, the CNRP has tried to create political events. For instance, CNRP MP-elect Dr. Mu Sochua developed a strategy of showing up at Freedom Park every morning. This had captured local and international media attention and had excited CNRP political and financial backers abroad and Cambodian voters at home. 
After several successful news-grabbing morning walks and sit-ins, the CPP decided to barricade Freedom Park. Consequently, Dr. Mu Sochua abandoned her strategy. Mr. Sam Rainsy and Mr. Kem Sokha took advantage of the 15-day district and provincial council election campaign to launch their political rhetoric against CPP leaders and Vietnam.
During the Khmer Krom 65th Anniversary, Mr. Sam Rainsy strongly accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of facilitating the loss of additional Khmer territory through economic land concessions to Vietnam, and engaged in strong rhetoric against the Vietnamization of Cambodia. 
According to Mr. Sam Rainsy, granting land concessions is inviting “colonization” that repeats the history of losing Kampuchea Krom to Vietnam. Mr. Kem Sokha accused Vietnam of plotting the Koh Pich bridge stampede that killed more than 350 people in November 2010 as a scheme to destroy the Khmer race, tradition and culture.
“As I see it, this new CNRP strategy seeks to provoke the CPP to embroil itself in a new political game in order to keep the political situation hot. But the CPP, which controls all of Cambodia’s institutions, refrained from falling into the game of lawsuits against CNRP leaders,” Mr. Ritthy said.

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