Two opposition lawmakers have been beaten unconscious during protests in Phnom Penh today, as over a thousand people descended upon the National Assembly calling for CNRP deputy leader Kem Sokha to step down as vice president of the Assembly.
According to Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Yim Sovann, Nhor Chamrouen, who represents Kampong Cham province, and Kong Sakphea, who represents Svay Rieng province, were set upon by protesters as they attempted to enter the National Assembly.
Social media was quickly inundated with pictures of the bloodied lawmakers and their damaged cars.
“For this case, I call for the Ministry of the Interior to take the measures of fines and arrests for the protesters who committed these crimes against our parliamentarians,” said Sovann. “The protest is meant to be a show of democracy, but this violence is not democratic, it is criminal.”
According to an observer at the scene, most of the crowd had dispersed by the time the attacks occurred.
Hun Many, a CPP lawmaker for Kampong Speu province and the son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, said he listened to the voice of people, “But I do not support and condemn the violence against people, especially parliamentarians, and call for the authorities to take action in order to find and arrest the suspects who committed a crime”.
The protest saw the crowd gather outside the National Assembly demanding that Sokha resign from his position as National Assembly president over allegations he is inciting unrest and hatred between supporters of the government and his political party, as well as claims he is obstructing development in the country through his ongoing criticisms of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
During a speech in Preah Sihanouk province yesterday, Sokha lauded recent warnings by Hun Sen that a CNRP victory in the 2018 elections could lead to civil war as a sign the premier fears defeat.
When asked who had organised the rally today, protesters refused to be drawn on details, however prominent members of the security services in civilian clothing and Phnom Penh district officials from the CPP were seen among the crowd.