Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month.
They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition and stay away from the ballot box.
Ramping up his push for a boycott, former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy posted on his Facebook page on Saturday, saying that people should follow the King’s example.
“Even though the King is being held hostage by Hun Sen he has let us know that he would not go to vote on July 29. Let’s follow his good example with regard to this fake election! On that particular day we just want to be neutral like him!,” Rainsy wrote alongside a portrait of King Norodom Sihamoni.
But Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman Sok Eysan called the CNRP messages “insults” to the King, who is neutral in the ballot process and has no political leanings.
“Sam Rainsy is cheating people to follow the King, it is an insult against the King’s reputation. He is using King’s honour as a shield, to cheat people,” he said.
The CNRP was dissolved by court order last November after its president Kem Sokha was arrested over alleged treason charges. The party’s 118 senior officials have also been banned from political activity for five years.
On Monday, CNRP’s former vice president Eng Chhay Eang wrote a similar message on his Facebook page, saying: “The king is not going to vote. We are not going to vote, maintaining clean fingers is following the King.”
Grassroots Democratic Party secretary general Sam Inn, reflected on the precedent set by both the King and his father on not voting in elections.
“King Norodom Sihamoni never goes to the polls because he wants to maintain the neutrality in the office of the King. I believe that the remarks made by former CNRP leaders in connection with King Norodom Sihamoni are incorrect,” Inn said.
Since 1993, the reigning monarch has never cast a ballot.