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Public Statements

Cambodia's Ruling Party

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MCCONNELL. Mr. President, there are two recent developments in Cambodia deserving of the Senate's attention.
First, voter registration for parliamentary elections in July, which is ongoing throughout that country over the next month, is being undermined by the ruling Cambodian People's Party, CPP. In complete control of the national and local election machinery, the CPP is making it difficult for opposition activists and supporters to register to vote and is creating a climate of fear that only bolsters the status quo.

While I am pleased the opposition Sam Rainsy Party and the royalist FUNCINPEC party have publicly complained of CPP interference and manipulation, I am deeply troubled by the relative silence of the international community in condemning these pre-election abuses.

Unless the complacent donor community aggressively checks CPP's manipulation in the preparation of these polls, the outcome of the elections will be a foregone conclusion even before the first vote is cast.

Second, recent comments by CPP hardliner and Prime Minister Hun Sen should be of grave concern to all donor nations, and democracy activists throughout Cambodia. On January 14, 2003, Hun Sen said: "I would like to announce to all the political parties to be very careful. If you would like to break Hun Sen's party, or the CPP, you might miss the opportunity to work on your own internal affairs. And as usual, Hun Sen would beat up and destroy the head of the engine. Meaning, I never beat up unimportant person but completely destroy the main engine. If you would like to play this game, I would be more than happy to accompany you. And I will use my last resort if that is what it takes. . . ."

This public threat betrays Hun Sen's total commitment to harassment, intimidation, and violence as a means of maintaining his rule.

Hun Sen's dark character was further revealed when he continued: "I assure you that I have all the means to get the information from you [opposition political parties]. If you have the meeting in the morning, the information will come to me in the afternoon. Except if you kill all the people in your own party like Pol Pot, then the information will not reach Hun Sen. Everywhere there are Hun Sen's men. Don't forget that I am the head of an undercover agency. I would like my capabilities to be known to the world. The CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] is American, but we are the Cambodian Intelligence Agency (CIA)."

Through his own words, and by his own admission, Hun Sen has shown himself to be nothing less than a paranoid evil dictator. His tough talk is unimpressive and only underscores his complicity in the numerous corrupt and violent episodes of Cambodia's more recent past, including illegal logging and the ongoing harassment of Global Witness, the killing of opposition activists, the banning of Voice of America rebroadcasts by the Beehive radio station, the March 1997 grenade attack against the Khmer Nation Party, and the July 1997 coup d'etat.

Let me be very clear to the State Department, the World Bank, and other international financial institutions: the failure to hold Prime Minister Hun Sen and the CPP accountable for their repressive actions and abuses, including in the ongoing harassment of Global Witness, will have funding ramifications in the fiscal year 2004 foreign operations bill.

I want to assure the people of Cambodia that many of us in the Congress will continue to follow political developments in Cambodia. We know that you want change, and the stability that comes from a nation rooted in the rule of law. And we know that the CPP cannot provide this.

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