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Cablegate: Mu Sochua On Safety, Reconciliation, and Role Of

VZCZCXRO4002
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0742 2800707
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 070707Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1243
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 000742

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KJUS CB
SUBJECT: MU SOCHUA ON SAFETY, RECONCILIATION, AND ROLE OF
OPPOSITION

REF: A. PHNOM PENH 549
B. PHNOM PENH 492

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In an October 2 meeting with the
Ambassador, opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) parliamentarian
Mu Sochua expressed confidence in her personal safety. Mu
reiterated her desire to resolve her dispute with the Prime
Minister and return to her duties in Kampot Province. END
SUMMARY.

A WAY OUT?
----------

2. (SBU) Mu met with the Ambassador October 2 and stated that
she feels "100 percent confident" of her safety since
returning from testifying at the Tom Lantos Human Rights
Commission hearing in Washington on September 10. Although
she stated she had not been threatened by anyone since her
return, she noted that in the past women in Cambodia had
suffered acid attacks without warning.

3. (SBU) Mu had earlier met with Appeal Court Prosecutor
General Ouk Savuth concerning her appeal of the dismissal of
her defamation suit against the Prime Minister. According to
Mu, Ouk did not take her case seriously and instead spent the
time "flirting" with her. Mu stated that Ouk told her to
"make it smooth for yourself" and attempted to convince her
to drop the suit. Mu, however, stated that her honor and
reputation were at stake, and requested that he "use the
law." Under the circumstances, Mu believes that her appeal
will be dismissed and the prosecutor will close the case
instead of sending it back to the lower court for
reconsideration.

4. (SBU) In relation to the Prime Minister's suit against her
(originally filed as a countersuit to her own) (Ref A), Mu
stated that she will not pay the fine and is preparing
herself mentally and emotionally to go to jail, which had
caused her a lot of "personal stress." Based on Mu's
favorable history with the PM when she was Minister of
Women's Affairs, the Ambassador queried whether they could
reconnect to reslove their dispute. Mu replied that she
would like to "find a way out, to talk, have peace." But,
she also stated that, while the SRP is determined to work
more cooperatively with the CPP, she will not be quiet and
will continue to fight for the vulnerable.

ROLE OF THE OPPOSITION
----------------------

5. (SBU) Mu stated that she wants to fulfill her duties as an
elected official and return to Kampot Province to give voice
to her constituents concerns without fear of prosecution (Ref
B). However, she stated that SRP members and grassroots
human rights workers are being singled out in land and other
disputes and called in for questioning or arrested. Mu
expressed concern that she or other SRP officials could be
accused of defamation or incitement in their work with
villagers involved in disputes.

6. (SBU) Mu also discussed her frustration with the
CPP-dominated National Assembly, where the draft Penal Code
is now being debated (Septel). SRP has requested changes to
several of the articles, specifically asking that the
articles which criminalize defamation be removed, but Mu
stated that they do not expect to prevail. She did, however,
agree that a public discussion of these issues is important.
Mu expressed her intent to continue to represent the voice of
the people, intimating that she will run again during the
next election.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: Mu Sochua's interest in reconciling with
the Prime Minister is indicative of the SRP's previously
stated intent to focus on the issues and consolidate their
message and voter base in preparation for the next election.
Mu and the SRP appear to understand the need to work
constructively with the ruling party in order to advance
their human rights goals and become a more effective
opposition party. This type of increased focus and
cooperation may result in reduced exposure to charges of
incitement and defamation in the future. However it turns
out, the Embassy will continue to support a visible role for
the opposition, and monitor the potential implications of
defamation provisions in the new Penal Code. END COMMENT.
ALLEGRA

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