A government spokesman warned yesterday that legal action may be taken against the opposition leaders if their “unlawful” campaign rhetoric incites unrest.
Tith Sothea, spokesman for the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, said that the government will consider filing complaints against Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy and deputy leader Kem Sokha for their attacks on Prime Minister Hun Sen during the campaign for the May 18 council elections.
“We have seen that [their campaign] is contrary to the law, such as [their] warnings to oust Prime Minister Hun Sen from office. This hour is not an hour of propaganda campaigns to choose or drop the prime minister,” Sothea said.
“The royal government can consider legal action if these activities cause danger or any obstacle for stability,” he warned.
Sothea said the pair should adhere to orders from the National Election Committee (NEC) to refrain from personal attacks during the campaign.
But Rainsy said he is “not concerned” by the threats.
“It is freedom of speech, as long as what we say is backed by evidence,” he said last night.
“Have you ever seen any election campaign where no party attacks another party? As long as we have grounds to do this, we will,” he added.
Rainsy’s comments followed a day of campaigning in Siem Reap yesterday in which his deputy, Sokha, slammed Hun Sen’s governance in a speech to hundreds of supporters.
“He knows nothing at all; he knows only watching Chinese film and taking Chinese theory to lead the country,” Sokha said. “The first, buy; the second, intimidate; the third, split.”
He added that, with support waning, the premier would be better off stepping down and letting the CNRP lead the country.
NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha told the Post that criticism of the opposing party’s political platform will continue to be tolerated, while attacks on individuals are considered illegal.
If a party member files a complaint over a personal attack, it will be dealt with through the law, Nytha said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY