Deputy Prime Minister Sok An yesterday accused the NGOs behind a report critical of the election process of plotting a revolution with the opposition party.
Speaking to 1,500 high-ranking government officials and members of the military, An said those behind the Election Reform Alliance (ERA) report, released in December, had misled the public.
“The essence of the report is to conceal the opposition’s faith and planned tactics by blaming local authorities and the NEC [National Election Committee] … for their electoral loss,” he said in the speech.
An went on to criticise the authors of the ERA report, whom he accused of meeting with Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha to plot a “colour revolution” similar to uprisings that toppled governments in Europe and Western Asia between 2000 and 2005.
He added that he found it suspicious that the release of the report in mid-December coincided with the shift in CNRP tactics from holding weekly demonstrations to daily ones.
“This clearly reflects the link between the [report] and its issuing by NGOs and the political tactics of the opposition,” An said.
But representatives of two NGOs that helped author the report dismissed An’s claims yesterday.
Puthea Hang, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said yesterday that the NGOs had no connection to the opposition.
“I think that the clarifications … are [intended] to deceive the public and defend their misbehaviour in the elections,” he said. “The government has to understand, the political party wants power, but we don’t.”
Laura Thornton, resident director of the National Democratic Institute, which co-produced the ERA report, also dismissed the claims made by An yesterday.
“The ERA report was based largely on the government’s own figures. If they are disputing the ERA report, then they are questioning the official figures,” she said.
“We have met with the CNRP and tried to meet with all political parties before the report was released. Perhaps the misconception comes from the fact that we share some similar viewpoints [with the opposition],” she added.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DANIEL PYE