By Asia Sentinel Aug 23, 2013
Hun Sen still stays out of the action, reports Asia Sentinel’s James Pringle
China appeared Wednesday to endorse the Cambodian People’s Party’s
narrow July 28 election victory, while at the same time calling for a
swift resolution to the country’s perilous political situation, which
has raised the real possibility of violence in the streets.
Ending a situation where he had vanished from the political scene for
almost three weeks and become a virtual recluse, Prime Minister Hun Sen
was on hand to welcome Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi after the
election produced a 68-55 seat victory for the CPP, representing Hun
Sen’s largest fall in support since UN-supervised elections in 1993.
Diplomats said that Wang, in background talks with Hun Sen, probably
warned his Cambodian ally of the dangers ahead, with an opposition rally
scheduled for next Monday by the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP)
of former French banker Sam Rainsy. Sam Rainsy was permitted to return
to Cambodia from exile just 10 days before the election, although he was
not allowed to stand for office.
The Chinese, though they are close allies and backers of the
seemingly endlessly-lasting Cambodian regime, usually take a pragmatic
view of politics and are doubtless alive to the dangers. That’s why it
took almost three weeks for Wang to actually come here.
Military officials said Wednesday if violence were to occur at the
forthcoming rally, fire trucks and thousands of military police and
civilian police would be on hand, “and we are ready to crack down if any
Cambodia’s long-ruling leader has spent significant time off the
radar, and people wondered what he was doing. After all, the 61 year old
strongman, who has been in power for 28 years, is a man who was seldom
more than a day out of being the cynosure of all eyes. But he has
remained a virtual recluse, surrounded by bodyguards in his mansion-like
residence in downtown Phnom Penh or in his nearby prime ministerial
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