Ally Says Cambodia Opposition Chief is Seeking Political Solution to Standoff

Kem Sokha is working to convince the ruling party to normalize politics after a three-year deadlock.

Ally Says Cambodia Opposition Chief is Seeking Political Solution to Standoff

Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha is trying to convince Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party to discuss a political solution to the country’s prolonged political stalemate, a top official with the banned opposition party said Friday.

More than three years after Kem Sokha was arrested and his Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was banned by courts loyal to Hun Sen, he is working to convince the ruling party to return to the negotiation table to discuss national reconciliation and has asked other countries for help, the Kem Sokha ally said.

“We have asked for the international community intervention in order for the disputed parties to be able to talk,” said Suon So Rida, a former CNRP lawmaker and Kem Sokha loyalist, told RFA. “We can’t allow any situations that can lead to revenge or our strategy will fail.”

Kem Sokha is working on three major facets of his plan for national reconciliation, Suon So Rida said, including meeting with diplomats whose countries are signatories to the Paris Peace Accords that ended years of war and helped set up a democratic country in Cambodia to ensure they uphold the pact.

Political commentator Em Sovannara said Kem Sokha has maintained his widespread popularity because he will not request political rehabilitation and is committed to nonviolent means. He urged the CNRP to draw more international support for its push for a political resolution.

“[International support] will give the opposition party political bargaining strength without which the opposition party has been unable to fight for justice until now,” he said.

But another analyst, Kim Sok, said the CNRP’s soft approach to dealing with the CPP won’t benefit the opposition party.

“The CPP and Hun Sen’s family have been controlling Cambodia under many parliament mandates because of the soft approach policy [of the opposition party] until the government disbanded the party and persecuted its members from top to bottom,” he said. “The democrats can’t stand up now.”

Suon So Rida said that Kem Sokha is doing what he can to move forward.

“Any talks must ensure that both parties understand each other, because if we incite Cambodians to take revenge on each other, we won’t reach the talks,” he said.

Cambodia’s Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP in November 2017 and barred its members from taking part in political activities, two months after the arrest of Kem Sokha for his role in an alleged scheme to topple Hun Sen’s government.

The ban, along with a wider crackdown on NGOs and the independent media, paved the way for the CPP to win all 125 parliamentary seats in the country’s 2018 general election.

Kem Sokha was put on trial beginning in January 2020 but the hearings were suspended two months later on the pretext of the coronavirus pandemic. Hun Sen has hinted that the trial may not resume for years, and may not conclude until 2024, long after the next election cycle.

In the meantime, Kem Sokha remains under judicial supervision pending the outcome of his trial, and must refrain from engaging in political activities within Cambodia, though he met with the European Union’s ambassador to the Southeast Asian nation, at his residence on May 4.

Kem Sokha has met with Hun Sen only once — in May 2020 — since the CNRP was disbanded, Suon So Rida said.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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No Love for Myanmar Junta Leader Min Aung Hlaing in His Hometown

Dawei has had 11 people killed and 100 arrested since the Feb. 1 military takeover.

No Love for Myanmar Junta Leader Min Aung Hlaing in His Hometown

Residents of Dawei, the hometown of Myanmar junta leader Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, are ashamed of their native son for a coup that has led to hundreds of civilian deaths and thrown the country into chaos, sources in the southern port city told RFA.

The city of 150,000 between the Andaman Sea and Thailand known for beaches and tropical fruit has seen 11 people killed by security forces and at least 100 others arrested, residents of Dawei told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

“Min Aung Hlaing will kill everyone regardless of where they are from. His regime will not spare the people of Dawei if they resist his rule. He only cares about maintaining his authoritarian rule,” said a protest leader, who declined to be named for safety reasons.

“We strongly oppose the military regime. We are determined to keep up the resistance to the end,” she said.

According to the Thailand-based rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) as of Friday, at least 774 people have been killed by the junta since Min Aung Hlaing seized power from leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government on Feb. 1.

“The leader of this murderous regime emerged from our region, Dawei township. This has hurt our reputation badly,” said a resident of the city, who requested anonymity for security reasons.

“I estimate that people who support Min Aung Hlaing in Dawei would be less than one percent. I think pro-democracy activists and protestors account for the remaining 99 percent,” the man said.

Despite violence and danger, activists in Dawei, capital of Tanintharyi region, say they will never stop protesting until democracy is restored.

“We have the ultimate goal of resisting this military regime. So we, the people of Dawei, will keep protesting in these streets until this regime falls,” said protest leader, who requested anonymity on fear of reprisal.

“We are not just resisting only Min Aung Hlaing. We are opposing the entirety of military rule. Min Aung Hlaing’s regime has done what all previous dictators have done,” he told RFA.

A student union leader told RFA that for the people of Dawei believe that the 64-year-old Min Aung Hlaing , doesn’t stack up to other historic local figures,  such as Ba Htoo, who led the Burma National Army to 20 victories over the occupying Japanese forces at the end of World War II.

He and other famous Dawei natives “are loyal to the country and stood for justice,” the student leader said.

Political analyst Aung Thu Nyen told RFA that unlike other leaders in Southeast Asia, Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing has delivered little to his hometown.

“We don’t see him over his career working for progress in the region,” he said, comparing Min Aung Hlaing with former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who tried to boost economic development in the northern Thai city of Chiangmai, where he was born.

“In contrast, we don’t see Min Aung Hlaing trying to improve Dawei or develop the region,” said Aung Thu Nyen.

The people of Dawei say that the military and its leader have corrupted the honor of the armed forces.

“The Tatmadaw is supposed to protect the lives of the people. They are responsible,” said a resident of Dawei who declined to be named.

“But [Min Aung Hlaing]’s regime is now doing the opposite of the Tatmadaw’s duty.  That’s why the people in Dawei don’t have a reason to forgive him, even though he is a native of Dawei,” he said.

Reported by Khet Mar and Soe San Aung for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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