Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen warns opposition not to go through with planned protest

Hun Sen warns opposition not to go through with planned protest

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the National Institute of Education yesterday morning in Phnom Penh where he threatened to eliminate opponents if they held mass demonstrations. Facebook
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the National Institute of Education yesterday morning in Phnom Penh where he threatened to eliminate opponents if they held mass demonstrations. Facebook

Hun Sen warns opposition not to go through with planned protest

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday threatened to “eliminate” his opponents should they press ahead with plans for mass demonstrations, and poured cold water on the opposition party’s expressed hopes for talks.

Despite numerous threats by the premier, other officials and military generals, the Cambodia National Rescue Party continues to plan nationwide demonstrations to protest against a wave of legal cases and arrests of its members and senior leadership. The cases are widely seen as politically motivated.

However, while speaking at a university graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh yesterday, Hun Sen brushed aside mounting international criticism of his government, and doubled down on his threats to use force.

“You threatened first,” he said. “If you are mad, don’t persuade others to join you; and when the problem occurs, don’t run so fast.”

“This is not just a threat – it is more serious than a threat because it is an order to eliminate those who destroy security and public order,” Hun Sen said, adding that he would consider himself a “dog” if he negotiated with his opponents.

And, he added, although problems could be resolved through the National Assembly, the CNRP, which has largely boycotted parliament, had forsaken its chance. “Now [we] do not negotiate,” he said.

Hun Sen also defended recent military “exercises” – including the deployment of troops, boats and helicopters – near CNRP headquarters, saying that the government could order such training manoeuvres at any time.

An army truck loaded with military personnel drives along National Road 2 toward the CNRP headquarters last week. SBN
An army truck loaded with military personnel drives along National Road 2 toward the CNRP headquarters last week. SBN

“What if a terrorist attack happens?” he asked. “Do not forget that terrorists can hit anyone. Therefore we want to know [about our] reaction forces. The prime minister can do this and the generals have to take orders.”

Following a joint statement last week by 39 countries, which expressed “deep concern” at Cambodia’s rising political tensions, the premier also lashed out at foreign nations, saying they had no right to criticise the Kingdom.

“In Cambodia, there is no political crisis, no internal crisis,” he said, again calling cases against opposition members “individual” not “political” matters, and claiming he could not “interfere”.

Over the past year, several CNRP members have been hit with lawsuits, and party president Sam Rainsy and deputy president Kem Sokha have both been dealt prison time in cases widely considered political. Rainsy fled into self-imposed exile in France last year; Kem Sokha has remained holed up inside CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh since late May.

Also yesterday, the municipal court in Phnom Penh granted several opposition lawmakers permission to visit Prey Sar prison to see their imprisoned colleagues – Senator Hong Sok Hour, parliamentarian Um Sam Ath and CNRP information officer Meach Sovannara.

Meanwhile, the committee set up by the party to organise demonstrations, which is led by senior lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang and which includes chief whip Son Chhay and lawmaker Mu Sochua, has yet to decide on a protest date, committee spokesman Thach Setha said yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,