Cambodia PM to make rare TV address Wednesday as political climate deteriorates

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen will give a rare televised speech on Wednesday (Oct 28) to address escalating political tension. PHOTO: EPA

PHNOM PENH (REUTERS) - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is set to give a rare televised speech on Wednesday (Oct 28) in which he will address escalating political tension after two opposition members of parliament were badly beaten this week.

The government gave few details about the content or purpose of the speech by the self-styled "strongman", whose patience has been tested by an opposition campaign accusing him of ceding sovereign territory to historic foe Vietnam.

Hun Sen has ruled Cambodia for three decades and has recently engaged in some sabre-rattling of his own, warning a victory by the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in a 2018 election would see a return to civil war.

Government spokesman Phay Sipan said Hun Sen would talk about the "current political situation" and a recent visit to France.

Two CNRP lawmakers were dragged out of their vehicles and kicked on the ground on Monday outside the National Assembly, where supporters of Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP), held a rally to demand the resignation of the CNRP's deputy house president.

Televised addresses by Hun Sen are rare and his public speeches are unpredictable and can occasionally go on for longer than five hours.

He has typically used events like university graduation ceremonies, school openings and the launching of infrastructure projects to talk politics and lambaste his critics, including the United Nations.

The CPP agreed last year to a series of concessions in return for CNRP ending a parliament boycott, but the opposition's attempts to portray Hun Sen as a puppet of Vietnam rile him.

Part of the truce was bail for CNRP members charged with insurrection for defying a government ban on protests.

Eleven of them, however, were imprisoned in a July verdict that CNRP accuses Hun Sen of orchestrating by publicly urging judges to jail them.

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