Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy said in a speech on Monday that military leaders aligned with the ruling party recently “came to whisper” to him the message that they would not prevent the opposition taking power if it were to win the 2018 national election.
Speaking to supporters in California, Rainsy claimed high-ranking commanders told him the Cambodian People’s Party was aware it could lose next year and that the military would not stand in the way of “the will of the people” in such a case.
“The military commanders of the Cambodian People’s Party came to whisper to us that they will respect the will of people,” Rainsy said in Long Beach. “Whoever orders them to make war, they would not listen to such an order.”
Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly warned that civil war would break out if the Cambodia National Rescue Party were ever to take power, and last month threatened to “eliminate 100 to 200 people” if necessary to maintain stability. In his speech, Rainsy said the CNRP should not be afraid of the threats from Hun Sen, describing them as hollow.
Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat declined to comment on Rainsy’s speech and said only that the military would follow the instructions given to it by the government.
“A new government has not yet won, so [we] cannot say. Wait to win. [We] do not follow Sam Rainsy,” he said.