The ruling party outcry over the CNRP’s so-called “slogan” continued on Tuesday, with Interior Minister Sar Kheng reportedly suggesting the catchphrase may spark violence.
The claim is the latest attack on the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s catchy call to voters to replace commune chiefs who “serve the party” with those who “serve the people”.
The catchphrase has riled the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, which has threatened legal action, saying it amounts to incitement.
Attempting to dodge this, an opposition spokeswoman recently claimed the party would not adopt the slogan officially, but nor would it stop local officials from using it.
Apparently unsatisfied, Sar Kheng was quoted in local media as demanding its usage be stopped altogether while addressing supporters in Battambang province on Tuesday.
He equated the phrase with “incitement, discrimination and despotism”, reportedly adding, the words could “cause violence”, and violated the “rights” of local officials.
With an eye on upcoming elections, the CPP is engaged in an all out offensive against their biggest electoral rivals, observers say, including passing controversial legal amendments giving authorities broad powers to dissolve parties who threaten “national stability”.
Reached yesterday, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the party was still considering legal action over the slogan.
He further said that the Interior Ministry would soon issue a letter declaring the CNRP’s recent national congress – at which it elected new leaders, including president Kem Sokha – “illegal” as it didn’t conform with a previous version of the party’s bylaws.
The ministry could not be reached to confirm the claim.