Hun Sen Agrees to Hold Early Elections, Wants Deal Signed Before King

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Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen addresses the inauguration ceremony of a hydropower plant in Pursat province, March 27, 2014.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen addresses the inauguration ceremony of a hydropower plant in Pursat province, March 27, 2014.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday that he has agreed to hold early polls in addition to adopting election reforms as part of a compromise agreement with opposition leader Sam Rainsy, calling for a signing of the deal between the two parties in front of King Norodom Sihamoni.

But Sam Rainsy, head of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), said the agreement was only “80 percent” complete and that he had to wait for his deputy Kem Sokha to return from a U.S. visit for any finalization and signing of the deal.

Hun Sen said he agreed during extensive talks with Sam Rainsy via telephone on Wednesday that he would call for commune elections in February 2017 and general elections in February 2018, five months earlier than scheduled, as part of a compromise to end a political deadlock that had gripped Cambodia since the last elections in July 2013.

Hun Sen had also agreed to revamp the government-appointed National Election Committee (NEC), which had declared the premier’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) the victor in the July 28 elections despite CNRP claims of widespread election irregularities.

Hun Sen claimed the two leaders decided during their 45-minute talks to sign the deal on Friday in front of King Sihamoni, acting as a witness.


The NEC membership is currently handpicked by the ruling CPP. The CNRP wants the membership to be more representative of the electorate and to be approved by two-thirds of the National Assembly, the country’s parliament.

Based on the official results of the July elections, the CPP won 68 seats in parliament to the CNRP’s 55, but the CNRP has claimed it won at least 63 and boycotted the National Assembly since it started its sessions in September.

Sam Rainsy said that the talks were “positive” and that Hun Sen had agreed to “reform the NEC as defined by the constitution, and reform the media and call for early elections.”  

However, he said, the CPP and CNRP had reached agreement on about “80 percent” of the deal, aimed at ending the opposition party’s boycott of the National Assembly.

A major outstanding issue is a fixed date for the new elections, he said. Previously, the CNRP wanted a mid-term election in early 2016.

Waiting for Kem Sokha's return

Sam Rainsy also said that he could not sign the deal on Friday because he had to wait for Kem Sokha to return from the United States.

“Previously, we wanted to have a top leaders meeting at the royal place this Friday, but we are having technical problems because Kem Sokha is still abroad,” Sam Rainsy said.

“There must be signatures from both Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha for any deal,” he said.

The two leaders had merged their political parties to put up a joint fight against Hun Sen before the last elections.

Kem Sokha, speaking from Washington state, said Hun Sen has exaggerated some of the conclusions at the talks.

He said that issues such as the mandatory approval of the NEC reform by the National Assembly have not been part of the compromise yet.

Kem Sokha accused Hun Sen of trying to split his party.

“This is the same strategy to split me and Sam Rainsy. Any decision must comply with the party’s regulations. Any decision must be made by me and Sam Rainsy,” Kem Sokha said.

Hun Sen threatened to unveil a tape of the conversation between him and Sam Rainsy if the opposition leader “changes his mind.”

“We can’t sign any deal, not because of Hun Sen or the CPP or Sam Rainsy, but purely because of Kem Sokha,” he said.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

Comments (6)

Kim Va

from Santa Ana

Hun Sen lies in the past, present, and future. Hun Sen cheats in the past, present, and in the future. Hun Sen commits crime in the past, present,and in the future.

What needs to be done now? If Hun Sen believes in justice or free and fair election, the election needs to be done this year because July 2013 election was robbed by Hun Sen/CPP. Don't wait for another year, or two more years, etc. The Cambodian people want the new election to be held this year. Don't let Hun Sen/CPP manipulate to make CNRP to agree to delay the election. If CNRP delay the election, CNRP will lost for ever. Please don't wait, want the election to be held this year. Let play it fair for the Cambodian people.

Apr 12, 2014 09:15 PM

Samdach Yuos

from Pursat

What was a reelection that Sam Raingsy and all of protest want ? 2013 reelection or 2018 reelection ? 2018 for a compromise a new election in FEBRUARY it wil be a schedule for the next election just 5 months before a schedule.So CNRP you are losing You want 2013 reelection,but now you agree to 2018 election.You are wrong.CPP is a winner now.This deal is very bad deal as in my opinion.

Apr 12, 2014 08:07 PM


from memphis

I do not believe anything come out of his mouth. The dictor never keep his promiss. It's an emty promiss. He only agree to the deal to get what he want.Hun Sen do whatever he want. He never got punished for his countless crime in the pass. Now even the international community seem to ignore his crime; only word no action or punishment.

Apr 12, 2014 02:06 AM

Anonymous Reader

This quick and dirty deal is a trap. Be very careful. It better to have re-election in 2016, the earliest.

Apr 11, 2014 08:20 AM

Anonymous Reader

'Hun Sen threatened to unveil a tape of the conversation between him and Sam Rainsy if the opposition leader “changes his mind.”'

This threat alone, is why CNRP has to be very cautious. This man doesn't change over night. This seems to me, Sam Rainsy said something or agreed to something that benefited only the CPP. This might be a trap Hun Sen planned ahead before calling Sam Rainsy. This phone deal was a dumb idea. It's not the same as having face-to-face because you don't have the support of your advisers next to you.

Apr 11, 2014 08:15 AM

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