Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Saturday attacked “a handful of people who had fled the Kingdom” – seemingly Sam Rainsy and other former leaders of the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) – of “wanting war” and the disruption of the July 29 national elections.
The vice president of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) said it would not allow any attempt to disrupt the upcoming polls.
Speaking to thousands of supporters at a campaign event in Prey Veng province’s Kamchay Mear district on Saturday, Kheng rejected claims that Cambodia had slipped from democracy, saying such accusations came from a small group and one individual who had never cared about the people’s fate.
“They know how to speak, but they do not know how to do . . . they have never done anything.
“When our country faced genocide, we don’t know where these people were, but when they came [onto the political scene], they only criticised but did nothing. I do not need to name them, perhaps you all know.
“Some of these people who have fled the country only want to have war and for this election to fail in order to have themselves succeed,” Kheng said.
He defended the political situation in Cambodia under his party’s leadership, saying the Kingdom is on a truly democratic path, in contrast to what is claimed by some.
Kheng spoke to thousands of supporters in Battambang last week and accused an unnamed group of being against the elections and out to disrupt the democratic process.
He said this was a party that participated in the 2013 national elections but rejected the results in an attempt to use other non-democratic means to gain power. “We strongly oppose those who try to block and destroy the elections. We must protect [the polls],” he said.
Former CNRP president Sam Rainsy repeatedly called on people to boycott the July 29 polls after his party was dissolved by the Supreme Court last year, and its leadership banned from political activity for five years after a complaint from the Ministry of Interior.
Sam Kuntheamey, head of the Neutral And Impartial Committee For Free And Fair Elections, said the opposition’s calls could not seriously affect the election process or lead to war as they were merely an expression of outrage at the current political situation.
“In other countries when parties have been dissolved, they do all they can to remain in the political arena, and this is all [the CNRP] has left,” he said.
Cheam Channy, a former opposition party lawmaker said: “The CNRP has been excluded from the elections so it cannot do anything to disrupt the polls. Everything is dependent on the people . . . because the CNRP cannot provoke or disrupt because we are dissolved.
“And it is not correct to say that the opposition has done nothing because [it aids the democratic process] according to its role. We have helped to alter and correct the mistakes and weaknesses of the government,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cambodia’s elder statesman Heng Samrin, National Assembly president and honorary president of the CPP, posted on his Facebook page that he had hailed the ruling party’s record at a campaign event on Saturday in Tbong Khmum province’s Ponhear Krek district.
He said the CPP was politically mature with a long history of leadership attained after the struggle for national liberation.
It had rebuilt the nation over a number of years, he said, before backing Hun Sen’s call that all party officials and members maintain its values and achievements through the confidence of the electorate.
“The party president [Hun Sen] has urged all levels of officials to eradicate [personal attacks] and factionalism to better serve the people because whatever affects the interests of the people must strictly be avoided,” he said.