Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith launched a broadside against the opposition yesterday, accusing it of trying to derail Cambodia’s economy, social stability and relationships with the international community by boycotting parliament and protesting in the streets.
Using the Ministry of Information’s annual media meeting as his platform, Kanharith claimed the Cambodia National Rescue Party had incited chaos in the capital during protests and worker strikes during December and January.
The CNRP’s actions, he added, had led to the destruction of property, including factories, houses and vehicles. “These are all actions that cross the line of democracy,” he said. “Already, we have seen scenes of anarchy in which the authorities needed to intercept to ensure the safety of the people in the capital.”
Such “interception”, however, resulted in security forces shooting dead at least four people during clashes in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district on January 3, an act that drew widespread condemnation but no consequences for those who pulled the triggers.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday he was not interested in Kanharith’s statement, saying people were clever enough to make up their own minds about what was happening.
“Cambodians understand about problems that are occurring across the country,” he said. “They are losing their land, natural resources and there is illegal immigration. They want to protect and save their country from these problems and also want to change the leader.”
The opposition has boycotted the National Assembly since September in protest against mass “irregularities” at last July’s national election. Government security forces have been responsible for at least six deaths since September, while the opposition has been regularly accused of stirring up tensions by employing anti-Vietnamese rhetoric in public speeches.