PM: Government to focus on Constitution and rule of law

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen said the government will focus on implementing the Constitution and the rule of law. Hun Sen's Facebook page

With Cambodia marking the 28th anniversary of the Paris Peace Agreement on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the government will focus on implementing the Constitution and the rule of law.

He said if the Paris Peace Agreement were to be implemented as some were calling for, “there would be no head of state or King. Rather, only the Supreme National Council would exist”.

Hun Sen was speaking at a graduation ceremony on the eve of the 28th anniversary of the Paris Peace Agreement, which saw four competing parties signing a deal on October 23, 1991, in the French capital, Paris, to end the Cambodian civil war. Another 18 countries also signed it as witnesses.

The parties included Funcinpec loyalists led by the late Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk; the Khmer People’s Liberation Army of Son Sann; the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan; and the Cambodian People’s Party, representing the State of Cambodia, led by Hun Sen.

The agreement saw Cambodia transition from a communist regime to a multi-party liberal democracy, with the first democratic national elections held in 1993.

Addressing graduate students from Build Bright University on Tuesday, Hun Sen said the government, the National Assembly and the Senate had the right to draft and adopt laws but had no right to interpret them. He stressed that only the Constitutional Council had that right.

“Don’t keep interpreting the Paris Peace Agreement at your own free will. I’m not going to talk about the Paris Peace Agreement, though tomorrow [Wednesday] marks its 28th anniversary.

“I don’t even need to broach the subject because there will be many guest speakers joining radio talk shows to interpret it. So we’ll just see how they interpret it,” he said.

Hun Sen said the government would only adhere to and implement the Constitution.

“Again, I won’t talk about the Paris Peace Agreement. Let them [analysts] interpret it because they are the ones who are demanding that the [Paris Peace Agreement] signatories implement it.

“Let me tell you this. If the Paris Peace Agreement is to be respected, then Khieu Samphan would have to be released [from prison] and the Khmer Rouge tribunal would have to be dissolved. This involves the Constitution that would need to be enforced because Untac no longer exists.

“If the Paris Peace Agreement is to be implemented, there would be no head of state and no King. There will only be the Supreme National Council,” he stressed.

Kin Phea, the director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, echoed Hun Sen’s comments. He said the essence of the Paris Peace Agreement had already been incorporated into the Constitution.

“The agreement is a historical document for the study of political developments in Cambodia. The agreement is not binding, only the Cambodian Constitution needs to be respected,” he stressed.

However, political analyst Lao Mong Hay disagreed. In a Facebook post, he said as one the signatories to the agreement, Cambodia was still obliged to implement it.

“Though all the signatories die, the agreement binds Cambodia forever, because Cambodia doesn’t die,” he said.

At the graduation ceremony, Hun Sen called on Cambodians to show solidarity by eating the Khmer speciality ambok (flattened rice), bananas, coconuts, especially palm sugar on November 9 to coincide with the Water Festival holiday and the birth of the Cambodian armies.

The celebration, he said, aims to demonstrate the commitment to defending the nation, religion and King.

November 9 would also coincide with the promised return of Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and other senior CNRP officials. Rainsy faces a slew of court cases, with arrest warrants set to be implemented should he return.

Hun Sen said all members of the armed forces had “already received orders” to enforce the law and court orders.

Meanwhile, the government’s move to stop the attempted coup called by Rainsy has taken effect with the banning of its vice-president Mu Sochua from entering Thailand.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Ket Sophann said CNRP vice-president Sochua left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at 3:04pm on Sunday on Flight MH782 and arrived in Bangkok, Thailand, at 4:34pm.

“Upon arriving at the checkpoint, the Thai Immigration Police banned her from entering the country because she is placed in a blacklist on Cambodia police’s requests. The Thai police also stamped the words ‘banned from entry’ on her passport.

“Sochua returned to Malaysia from Thailand at 8:10pm on Flight MH781,” he stressed.