Hun Sen condemns attack on two rival lawmakers

PHNOM PENH • Cambodia's Prime Minister has condemned a violent assault on two opposition parliamentarians as "cheap" and unforgivable, and took aim at political rivals for stirring tensions with street protests that hurt the country's image.

In a rare, 11-minute televised address yesterday, he called for calm, and said those who dragged the lawmakers out of their cars and kicked them following a rally on Monday would be brought to justice.

"We can't tolerate and forgive those who committed this," he said. "Regardless of who they are - whether they are supporters of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP), the royal government, the opposition party - whoever committed this cheap act must be punished."

The two Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmakers were attacked after a demonstration by supporters of the ruling CPP outside the National Assembly.

The address follows the collapse in July of a fragile truce between the two main parties, in which the CPP agreed to a series of concessions in return for CNRP ending its year- long parliamentary boycott.

Mr Hun Sen has been central to a war of words with CNRP, and criticised it for staging protests during his recent visits to Paris and the United Nations in New York.

CNRP's rallies, he said, may have influenced the demonstration at Parliament by his own supporters, noting that they had dispersed long before the lawmakers were beaten.

CNRP accuses Mr Hun Sen of ceding territory to historic foe Vietnam, the latest attempt to portray him as a stooge of Hanoi, which riles him.

Mr Hun Sen has ruled Cambodia for three decades, and has recently engaged in some sabre-rattling of his own, warning that a CNRP victory in a 2018 election would see a return to civil war.

He has typically used events such as university graduation ceremonies and the launching of infrastructure projects to talk politics and lambast his critics, including the UN.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2015, with the headline 'Hun Sen condemns attack on two rival lawmakers'. Print Edition | Subscribe