Government spokesman Phay Siphan said on Sunday that deploying troops at the Thai border ensured stability, with the armed forces having an obligation to uphold national security.
Siphan also denied that airlines had been banned from flying Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), into the Kingdom.
He said civil aviation authorities had only issued a notice that Rainsy was a traitor who was plotting a coup.
The CNRP claimed Rainsy and other top leaders still intended to return to Cambodia on Saturday.
“The armed forces have an obligation as stipulated in Cambodia’s laws and its Constitution to maintain public order and protect the state. The armed forces will not allow any force to stage a coup against the government, which was born out of the will of the people.
“So the deployment of the armed forces comes from this obligation to protect public order and the government as stipulated in the Constitution and the laws regarding the armed forces,” he said.
Siphan stressed that Cambodian civil aviation authorities had not banned any airlines from flying Rainsy or any other CNRP leader into the Kingdom.
“As far as I am aware, there is no ban. Just a notice [has been issued] that this person is a traitor and is plotting to stage a coup. The government does not have the right to control the private sector, but it does have the obligation to say that a person is wanted by the authorities.
“The government is obliged to arrest Sam Rainsy after the court ordered his arrest,” Siphan said.
He said activities aimed at toppling the government would resolutely not be allowed.
“This does not mean that the government is afraid of Sam Rainsy, but rather the government must protect public order and we can respond,” he said.
Mao Havanall, the minister in charge of civil aviation, was quoted by Bayon TV on Thursday as saying he would not allow any airline to transport Rainsy to Cambodia as he aimed to topple the Cambodian government.
If any airline or pilot were to transport Rainsy, they would be guilty of plotting with him, he had said.
“We have been preparing since before November 9, the date on which the convict Sam Rainsy said he wants to return to Cambodia. So we have prepared a working group with experts and technical officials.
“We are ready. We will know in advance, especially as we are cooperating with the airways transport department, which has information from all airlines and Cambodia’s three international airports.
“We also have an electronic system in place, and we will know immediately when he checks in before boarding a plane,” Havanall told reporters.
However, Cambodian Civil Aviation spokesman Chea Aun also denied that the 47 airlines operating in Cambodia had been ordered not to transport Rainsy.
Aun said a notice had just been issued to airlines that Rainsy’s return was intended to orchestrate a coup.
“Rainsy comes to stage a coup. When the airlines know that he comes to provoke people to revolt against the Royal Government of Cambodia, they will not dare transport him.
“Although we did not tell them not to do so, they will not dare transport him. It is not a threat, we just notified them to understand the situation,” Aun said.
Meanwhile, the armed forces consisting of the army, military police and police have been deployed along the Thai border in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces and ordered to train and remain on alert.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak told The Post that the deployment of forces along the border was in preparation to arrest Rainsy
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said only a handful of law enforcement officers were necessary to arrest Rainsy, while deploying security forces to deal with his return appeared disproportionate and inconsistent.
Mong Hay said: “A court of law has summoned Sam Rainsy to appear in court to face the charges against him. Yet the Civil Aviation Authority prevents airlines from flying him to his homeland.
“This is rather bizarre and begs the question as to whether the government wants to arrest him or prevent him from returning home,” he said.
“Preventing the CNRP leaders from returning home is a serious violation of Articles 31, 33 and 40 of the Constitution,” he said.