Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday said he considered the opposition party’s protest campaign following the disputed 2013 elections a surreptitious attempt at a “colour revolution”, a phrase the ruling CPP has frequently used to delegitimise dissent and buttress calls for tighter security.
Speaking at a ceremony to bestow the honourific title of Sante Bandit – which roughly translates to “doctor of peace” – on 13 senior Interior Ministry officials, Kheng referred to the unrest following the last national elections to emphasise the difficulty his forces faced as new elections approached.
While doing so, he framed the CNRP’s campaign for an investigation into alleged electoral fraud as a “trick to destroy the election result”.
“We can also call it a colour revolution,” Kheng said, using a term for the mostly nonviolent protest movements that brought down governments in the former Soviet bloc. “[They] have already tried to test it, but they did not announce it. But they shouted ‘change, change, change’ in order to undermine the result of the election.”
The comments marked a shift in tone from the Interior Minister, who has in the past subtly rebuked officials for aggressive rhetoric about colour revolutions.
CNRP Deputy President Mu Sochua denied yesterday the party wanted a revolution, and said such rhetoric suggested the CPP doubted its electoral chances. “If you’re confident about winning an election you put out positive messages, not negative.”