Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CNRP ‘behind’ US protests, says PM's son

CNRP ‘behind’ US protests, says PM's son

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy shakes hand with Daniel Kritenbrink, senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council, on Thursday during a meeting in Washington. Photo supplied

CNRP ‘behind’ US protests, says PM's son

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s second-eldest son, Hun Manith, has thrown cold water over the opposition’s attempts to distance itself from pending anti-government protests in the US next week when the prime minister attends a US-ASEAN summit in California.

The US-based Cambodia-America Alliance said last month that they expected up to 1,000 members to attend anti-Hun Sen demonstrations in California on February 15 – an event that marks the first time the prime minister has been invited by a US president to visit the country.

Hun Sen has warned, however, that US protests would spark ruling-party demonstrations against opposition leaders in Cambodia. The premier made similar threats when he was greeted by anti-ruling party protesters on a trip to Paris in October. The pro-government protests that followed ended with two opposition lawmakers savagely beaten outside the National Assembly.

On Saturday, a video began circulating in local media showing Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy addressing supporters in Washington. The opposition leader appeals to the CNRP’s US base to refrain from political protests in California.

“This demonstration now is not good; it will damage the CNRP’s work,” Rainsy says in the video.

He goes onto say that the CNRP does not endorse or recognise any protesters attending the rally, calling for “calm” and “patience” as the party seeks to realise its political aspirations.

“Many views supporting the CNRP understand the situation; what we should do and what we should not do in order to achieve our goal, to rescue our nation in a peaceful way,” he said.

But the prime minister’s son, Manith, who was also promoted to the head of the army’s intelligence unit in 2015, told local media last week he had infiltrated online “group communications” and had evidence that the CNRP was behind the planned anti-Hun Sen protests.

“Although Mr Sam Rainsy and the CNRP leaders recently made an announcement denying it, the preparations continue,” he said. “[Rainsy] is trying to create an image that they are not related [to the protest], but planning is under way.”

Contacted yesterday, Manith declined to comment further, but stood by his comments in local media.

Political analyst and founder of the Future Forum think tank, Ou Virak, described both parties’ responses as “puzzling”, as such events are common in democratic political debate.

The ruling party, he said, have become “obsessed” with trying to protect the opportunity for legitimacy that a handshake with US President Barack Obama presents for Hun Sen.

“They don’t want to ruin the mini-victory lap,” Virak said.

Meanwhile, the opposition, which has long-encouraged political demonstrations in Cambodia, appeared “scared”, Virak added, seeking short-term political gains rather than sticking to their principles.

Additional reporting by Daniel de Carteret

MOST VIEWED

  • Hundreds of children in hospital with dengue

    A serious dengue fever epidemic is affecting Cambodia, with nearly 600 children hospitalised in the five Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals on Monday alone, a statement posted on the Kantha Bopha Foundation’s official Facebook page said on Wednesday. Because Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals provide

  • Sihanoukville building collapse death toll rises to 19

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said on Sunday that the government will act against those responsible for the collapse of a seven-storey building in Sihanoukville on Saturday, which resulted in 19 dead and 24 injured as of Sunday evening. Sar Kheng said three Chinese nationals and one

  • Gov’t to probe Chinese exports to US via Sihanoukville

    The government is investigating allegations that Chinese companies are using Chinese-owned special economic zones in Cambodia to export goods to the US and avoid tariffs, said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay. The move comes after US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes said the US had

  • Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure

    Minister of National Defence Tea Banh said on Thursday that having sanctions and external pressure placed on Cambodia was not worse than life under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Tea Banh, who is also deputy prime minister, was speaking to military and ruling party officials