While Prime Minister Hun Sen noted the joyous and peaceful atmosphere of this year’s Water Festival, Hun Manet on Tuesday renewed his appeal for the joint protection of peace.
Manet, the deputy head of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and commander of the army’s infantry, said lasting peace required concerted efforts and participation from the public regardless of their religion or political affiliation.
“The last thing people want is unrest, and the loss of happiness and warmth. So we all have to unite, both spiritually and physically, to protect peace at all costs for the future of the nation and the Cambodian people,” Manet said on Facebook.
Meanwhile, Hun Sen said this year’s Water Festival saw large numbers of people celebrating in the capital and the provinces. He dismissed rumours of instability, which he said had been spread in an attempt to provoke unrest.
“In some provinces, there were rumours and lies spread by ill-intended people who wanted to instigate instability and make citizens afraid.
“The government can ensure security for its citizens, especially during the Water Festival. Please don’t believe the lies by a handful of groups who [intend to] cause turmoil and who don’t want to see the country prosper,” Hun Sen said on Facebook.
He said hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country had in fact enjoyed the festival this year without fear.
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Wednesday echoed the remarks of Hun Sen and Manet. He said Cambodia had experienced numerous armed conflicts, which had led to tragedies including the separation of families, and that the government would stop at nothing to prevent civil war from reoccurring.
“I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to the authorities and armed forces at all levels for implementing the eight-point measures that I introduced to maintain peace, security, public order and safety for citizens to enjoy the national festival,” he said.
Ou Chanrath,a former Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker, said while he welcomed the government’s commitment to peace, he wanted to see the party granted rights to re-enter politics.
He said the Supreme Court’s prolonged ban of the CNRP could eventually lead to instability and see the country divided.
“Peace and happiness lasts as long as Cambodian citizens as a whole join hands. But if only one group has happiness while the other suffers, peace cannot last. I have noticed that some former opposition officials had used rhetoric to cause division,” Chanrath said.