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Army did not move to stop CNRP: Tea Banh

The opposition yesterday accused a senior army general of having ordered plainclothes soldiers to block the party from entering the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng on Sunday, where they were set to hold a public forum.

But Defence Minister Tea Banh strongly rejected the accusations.

Hong Sok Hour, an opposition senator from the northwest, said Anlong Veng residents had informed the opposition that General Kun Kim, a deputy commander-in-chief of RCAF and a chief adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, had ordered his soldiers to block the Cambodia National Rescue Party.

“The witnesses confirmed that this group was made up of soldiers, because in Anlong Veng, people know each other. Civilians know civilians, the commune chief knows the commune chief, the deputy commune chief knows the deputy commune chief and the soldiers know the soldiers,” Sok Hour said at a news conference in Phnom Penh.

“So Anlong Veng people said the group were made up of soldiers, and Mr Nhem En, the former deputy district governor of Anlong Veng [who defected to the CNRP in May], knows this group of soldiers are under the control of his excellency General Kun Kim.”

CNRP leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha yesterday blamed the events on the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, which they said was trying to intimidate the opposition to join the National Assembly after months of boycotting.

General Kun Kim could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Defence Minister Tea Banh dismissed the CNRP’s allegations.

“Where are the soldiers deployed and what would they be deployed for? There is nothing [true about this]. If [we] wanted to block [Rainsy], why would we do it there?” he said.

“[The CNRP] is the only group that has bad ideas and causes problems by alleging like this and alleging like that. That’s why [people] did not allow the [CNRP] to enter. Do not accuse soldiers. If solders wanted to [intimidate] they would do it at [the leaders’] homes.”

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