Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday said the Kingdom could “not avoid a war” if the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) is legalised and its former president Kem Sokha went unpunished.
He also denied the theory that he was behind the creation of minor political parties.
A former CNRP lawmaker shot back that his court-dissolved party only practised non-violent protests, while a political analyst contended that the prime minister’s statement was a scare tactic.
Speaking before more than 27,500 garment workers in Kandal province, Hun Sen made reference to Sokha, who has been in pretrial detention in Tbong Khmum province since his arrest on “treason” charges in September last year.
He asked voters: “Why do you want to change [leaders]? The new is not necessarily more capable than the old.
“It is even more dangerous when they attempt to cause [chaos]. Cambodia cannot avoid war if the president of that party is not punished and it [the CNRP] was not dissolved,” he said.
The prime minister also denied he had a hand in creating any of the minor parties taking part in the July 29 polls.
Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who is now president of the Cambodia National Rescue Movement (CNRM), has regularly called the small parties firefly parties, or puppets of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
“[He called them] our puppet parties which meant that I created all of the parties, but they are all intellectuals. They are all leaders. They are politicians who compete with the ruling party,” Hun Sen said.
“I will be prime minister for at least another 10 years. I want to fight that b— who destroyed the country, national unity, sovereignty, and gave away four provinces to another country,” Hun Sen said.
He was referring to a case where Rainsy stands accused of treason for promising autonomy to Montagnard minorities living in Cambodia’s northeastern provinces.
Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath denied Hun Sen’s accusation, claiming his former party did not hold grudges or advocate violence.
“I did not think that way because my party has clear policies to strive for national unity. We never had a policy of using violence. We speak about taking no revenge and do not take any Khmer as an enemy. We publicly announced it all the time,” Chanrath said.
Paul Chambers, a lecturer and special adviser for international affairs at Thailand’s Naresuan University, contended that Hun Sen’s statement had a specific purpose.
“His remarks amount to mere political rhetoric in an attempt to frighten garment workers to vote for his CPP while painting Kem Sokha and the CNRP as a nuisance and enemy of the state,” he said.