Search form

Login - Register | FOLLOW US ON

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CNRP pledges marches; PM says party ‘absolutely will not be allowed’

Barricades sit on the roadside last week at a police checkpoint in Kandal province, a day before opposition leader Kem Sokha’s trial.
Barricades sit on the roadside last week at a police checkpoint in Kandal province, a day before opposition leader Kem Sokha’s trial. Pha Lina

CNRP pledges marches; PM says party ‘absolutely will not be allowed’

The Cambodia National Rescue Party yesterday declared its intention to move forward with nationwide demonstrations in response to what it calls a campaign of state-backed legal harassment, prompting a swift reply from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who warned security forces had been advised to crack down on any such attempt.

Coming on the heels of Friday’s conviction of CNRP acting president Kem Sokha, the party’s permanent committee yesterday voted to green-light mass, nonviolent protests and establish a committee to organise them, according to a statement released yesterday evening.

Party spokesman Yim Sovann said that while the opposition party still hoped to negotiate with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, given the continued persecution of its members, there was “no choice” but to take to the streets.

“We cannot wait and just see us arrested one by one,” Sovann said, adding that the 10- to 20-member committee, to be formed today, would set a demonstration date.

Asked how many supporters the party hoped to mobilise, the spokesman said “as many as possible”.

As it stands, two opposition elected representatives are behind bars, three more face criminal cases and the party’s leaders – president Sam Rainsy and Sokha – have been sentenced to jail time.

Rainsy fled into self-imposed exile last year while Sokha has been holed up at the CNRP’s Phnom Penh headquarters since May 26 to avoid arrest himself, and on Friday was sentenced to five months in prison.

The opposition leader was convicted for not appearing as a witness in a prostitution case surrounding his purported mistress, a case that has also seen four human rights workers and an election official imprisoned.

In a speech to supporters on Sunday, Sokha warned that the “unjust” cases – widely considered politically motivated – could spur mass demonstrations.

Speaking yesterday, an opposition lawmaker, who wished to remain anonymous, said the party needed a show of strength. “We have to put the pressure back on the CPP,” they said.

“Our back is against the wall . . . they must think twice before crossing the line. We have arrived at a turning point, a showdown.”

Though Sovann, the spokesman, said the party would seek permission, and protection, from the authorities for their members to “exercise their rights”, the premier quickly slapped down any suggestion of allowing the protests.

In an interview with online outlet Fresh News, often used to disseminate state decisions, Hun Sen reportedly said he had ordered Interior Ministry Sar Kheng and all armed forces to prepare to stop the opposition’s “illegal mass demonstrations”.

“For two days already, the National Rescue Party has threatened the government and the country’s stability,” the premier was quoted as saying.

“It is time to say back that we won’t allow [protests] with whatever values, at whatever time, in whatever form; it absolutely will not be allowed.

“There is no solution which can be found except the court. The court system will sentence those who do wrong, and please don’t be under the impression that the government does not have the right to use authorities to protect the country’s peace.”

Interior Ministry and National Police representatives were unreachable yesterday evening. Defence Ministry spokesman Chum Socheat confirmed the military would take measures to “protect public security” if ordered by the government.

The Justice Ministry, meanwhile, yesterday released a rebuttal of the CNRP’s criticisms of the swift conviction of Sokha, maintaining any delay would have been contrary to his rights.

Last week, ahead of Sokha’s trial, several joint police and military police roadblocks were set up around Phnom Penh, with reports of CNRP supporters being blocked from travelling to the capital.

The British Embassy yesterday updated its travel warning to citizens visiting the Kingdom, noting the “high” political tensions. “Avoid all protests and demonstrations as they could turn violent,” it stated.

3

Comments

Please, login or register to post a comment
Don Rennie's picture

Dear Shaun and Sengkong,

Let's be clear.

The PM and the CPP have undermined peace and democracy in Cambodia.

The PM and the CPP do not respect the people of Cambodia and their civil rights.

DR

Samdech's picture

It is clear that Hun Sen is absolutely paranoid now about controlling power and suppressing all opposition knowing that the general population is firmly against him. It is only a matter of time before he and his cronies will be forced from power and the country - it has happened in Indonesia, the Philippines and it will happen in Cambodia to. The new generation of Cambodians have had enough of these thieves, who are well and truly past their use-by date and still trying to cling to a by-gone era.

savath.pou's picture

Following his conviction in a prostitution lawsuit, the acting CNRP president Mr. Kem Sokha has recently hinted mass demonstrations in the entire capital city of Phnom Penh or even in the whole country of Cambodia.

Nevertheless, would Mr. Kem Sokha have any other choice to protect himself rather than inciting mass protests? NONE!
But at the same time, would Samdech Hun Sen government stay idle and enjoy contemplating the Kem-Sokha-led protests throughout the entire Phnom Penh suburbia or even the entire country? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Friends, dust off your cameras, or swipe clean your mobile phone lenses, and be ready to take pictures of potentially ugly protests and to show them to the world so as everybody can see how ugly the political situation in Cambodia is at the moment.

God, Allah, Buddha or Whoever up there, please show mercy to this South-East Asian country where good brains and pure hearts are in an extremely short supply.

Sydney, 13 September 2016.

Savath Pou,
Senator Expelled.

Latest Video

Turkish Embassy calls for closure of Zaman schools

With an attempted coup against the government of President Recep Erdogan quashed only days ago and more than 7,000 alleged conspirators now under arrest, the Turkish ambassador to Cambodia yesterday pressed the govern

CNRP lawmakers beaten

Two opposition lawmakers, Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Sakphea were beaten unconscious during protests in Phnom Penh, as over a thousand protesters descended upon the National Assembly.

Student authors discuss "The Cambodian Economy"

Student authors discuss "The Cambodian Economy"

Students at Phnom Penh's Liger Learning Center have written and published a new book, "The Cambodian Economy".