Cautious China endorses Cambodia poll resultBy Asia Sentinel Aug 23, 2013 12:09PM UTC
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 violence occurs.”
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 offices.
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