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Defence minister warns against general strike

Defence Minister Tea Banh yesterday said the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces are ready to protect the Kingdom’s constitution should the opposition’s threatened general strike fall on the wrong side of the law.

“A nationwide general strike or mass demonstration must be held under the framework of the law, and it would be impossible if the strike is not under the framework of the law. [I] am not threatening, but one has to look at [the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s] intention to destroy the constitution,” Banh said in a speech given to officials at a handover of power at the Ministry of Social Affairs.

“[I] am speaking frankly now – [nobody] can destroy the constitution, and the armed forces are already in Phnom Penh.”

On Wednesday, the CNRP threatened to call for a nationwide strike barring ruling party concessions at the National Assembly. It also branded the government as “illegitimate” after the vote for the new mandate was held on Tuesday with none of the 55 opposition lawmakers in attendance.

The opposition boycotted Monday’s opening session of parliament, which went ahead despite legal analysts saying the constitution demanded at least 120 lawmakers to be present.

Banh said yesterday that the CNRP’s threatened strike – which it has vowed to hold for a single day – was clearly aimed at undermining the constitution.

“It is difficult [to understand] how a party that fully respects the constitution could make a wrong and illegitimate government,” he said.

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