Hun Sen has decided to drop a government lawsuit against senior opposition official Kong Korm over possession of land that belongs to the Foreign Ministry, potentially ending a weeklong saga where the prime minister has targeted the Candlelight Party adviser.
The Foreign Ministry had filed a $1-million lawsuit on Wednesday against Korm allegeding he fraudulently procured a land title for land he was living on but that belonged to the ministry. Hun Sen had also asked for the Anti-Corruption Unit to investigate Korm for any wrongdoing.
At around 10 p.m. Thursday, Hun Sen took to his Facebook page to announce that the dispute had been resolved and that Korm and his family had agreed to hand over the land back to the state in the next week.
“Do not let the night be long and dream a lot,” posted Hun Sen, using a Khmer-language phrase meaning to end an issue and move on.
“I have decided not to continue with the complaint, and end it after handing over the house to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which can be done next week.”
Hun Sen added that Korm and his family had cooperated with the Anti-Corruption Unit for three-and-half hours on Thursday. He also attached a letter from Korm, where the Candlelight adviser conceded his improper conduct with regards to the use of the land and said he would like to hand back the land to the state.
He goes on to thank “samdech” Hun Sen, the Anti-Corruption Unit and the government for forgiving his conduct.
Anti-Corruption Unit spokesperson Soy Chanvicheth said the ACU had met with Korm and his family on Thursday, discussed the history of the land and collected documents from Korm.
Chanvicheth said the matter was now resolved because Korm had agreed to hand over the land back to the government.
While the lawsuit may have been dropped by the prime minister, the Phnom Penh court issued an injunction against the sale or lease of the land, stemming from a separate motion submitted by the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.
Korm is still facing a $500,000 incitement lawsuit from the CPP’s Tbong Khmum provincial committee, for comments he made about the ruling party’s founding last weekend. The speech appeared to irk Prime Minister Hun Sen, who then pivoted to the weeklong land dispute.
Korm was previously a foreign minister and ambassador in the 1980s under the Vietnamese-controlled government and recently joined the Candlelight Party as a senior adviser after his son’s political party, the Khmer Will Party, agreed to a coalition with the primary opposition party ahead of the July national election.