Approximately one hundred members from each unit of the armed forces, military police, and national police have been deployed to Phnom Penh to “ensure political stability and security” until the new government is formed, a military police official said Thursday
“[They] have been mobilised from nationwide in order to ensure political stability and security until the official formation of the new government,” Kheng Tito, spokesman of the National Military Police, said.
“Not to worry, this is an advance measure of the armed forces to prevent any bad situation that may happen during the caretaker government period. We have to ensure security and social stability until there will be new government.”
Troops were reported seen moving along national roads toward areas around the capital.
On Tuesday, opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy vowed widespread demonstrations if final election results don’t reflect an opposition win.
The party later stressed that they viewed protests as a worst-case scenario and had called only for peaceful protests. The government, in turn has said it might view such moves as “rebellion.”
CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha, meanwhile, gave a speech just after Rainsy in which he said upwards of 70 per cent of the armed forces and civil servants were believed to have voted for the opposition – who have promised large raises for their ranks.
Spokesman for the Council of Ministers, Phay Siphan, said troop movement was strictly to ensure security, and took pains to highlight Sokha’s statements as patently false.
“I would like to reject and express strong regret over the comment… which exaggerates the information and attacks and insults RCAF (Royal Cambodian Armed Forces),” he said.
“It was intended to break the will of [military] personal and the [armed force units] of the RCAF, to turn them away from the duty of protecting the nation, protecting the democracy and the rights of the people.”
Multiple calls to Defence Minister Tea Banh, National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith, and a number of other high-ranking military officials went unanswered.
Though government officials sought to paint the movements as “ordinary,” the opposition said they were anything but.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the troop movements were doubtless intended “to intimidate us.”
“Violence and intimidation will never be able to kill justice, will never be able to kill the will of the people,” he said, before shooting down intimations the party hadn’t made enough efforts to negotiate.
“How many letters have we sent to the NEC and how many to the requisite mechanisms asking them to solve the problem?”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ABBY SEIFF