Foreign Minister Hor Namhong yesterday summoned foreign ambassadors and representatives from the United Nations for a briefing on this week’s unfolding political crisis.
Namhong, who took no questions, attempted to reassure the gathered diplomats that authorities were working to catch those responsible for Monday’s savage beating of two opposition lawmakers outside parliament at the end of a pro-ruling party protest against Cambodia National Rescue Party deputy leader Kem Sokha.
He also moved to justify yesterday’s ousting of Sokha as the National Assembly’s first vice president, saying it was prompted by petitions from across the country, according to a ministry statement released after the 20-minute meeting.
“Kem Sokha has used his role as first vice deputy president of National Assembly to slander and attack the government and incite people to oppose the government and the CPP, both in the country and overseas,” Namhong said.
“Every activity of Kem Sokha makes him not suitable to be a leader of the National Assembly and violates the culture of dialogue.”
“To be a first vice president of National Assembly, Kem Sokha should be more patient and considerate [rather than attacking] the government.”
During the briefing, Namhong also echoed comments by Prime Minister Hun Sen, claiming the violence was carried out by 20 to 30 people an hour after the “protest ended peacefully”, at which time he said “police forces were removed from the area”.
He said authorities had “identified some suspects” but nothing was official.
The opposition accuses the Cambodian People’s Party of orchestrating the rally, which they then used as a justification to boot Sokha.
Speaking after the meeting, German Ambassador Joachim Baron von Marschall called the recent events “troubling”.
“The violence against persons who the Cambodian people have elected is unacceptable,” Marschall said via email.
“It is good that the government has taken a clear stand in this regard, but the ultimate proof will lie in swift and effective measures being taken to bring the culprits to justice.”
“The removal of Kem Sokha from his parliamentary office has taken place in the context of these events. What does this mean for the ‘culture of dialogue’? To me the dialogue is an essential prerequisite for a stable and peaceful development of this country.
Both partners to this dialogue are equally responsible to make it continue in a meaningful way – it is ‘win-win’ or ‘lose-lose’.”