Opposition leader Kem Sokha appealed to the ruling party to halt “political intimidation”, which he blamed for the breakup of a pair of Cambodia National Rescue forums on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference held at CNRP headquarters a day after two meetings in Kandal province were drowned out by hundreds of protesters calling for an apology over his alleged S-21 comment, Sokha said the opposition had little doubt the incident was the work of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
“The inciting statement was broadcast across all media, and the broadcast was evidence that the CPP was behind the demonstration,” Sokha said, referring to the premier’s discussion of the protest in the leadup to Sunday’s mass rallies.
Demonstrations were held across the country on Sunday, calling for an apology by Sokha. Though S-21 survivor Chum Mey spearheaded the protests, the opposition – as well as some rights groups – have maintained that the government had a heavy hand in them.
Sokha said yesterday the mounting incidents had made him fear for his personal safety as well as that of “CNRP political activists across the country”.
“If there is violence against me or other activists, the ruling party has to take responsibility,” he said.
“The party has created a lot of forms of intimidation, defamation and incitement.”
Should Prime Minister Hun Sen be unable to ensure the opposition’s security, Sokha added, he should step down.
“It is a time of political instability, and the election will not be free and fair if the ruling party takes no measures to provide security,” he said.
But ruling party officials scoffed at Sokha’s claims, saying he had no one to blame but himself if he landed in hot water.
“Samdach Techo [Hun Sen] has enough ability to maintain political stability and safety for all people, and has ordered all local authorities to prevent any act of violence, but Cambodian people are still free to organise demonstrations against Sokha,” senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said, before advising that Sokha apologise and defuse the situation.
“What we were concerned about is that an act of violence may be made up by Sokha and blamed on the ruling party,” he added.