Three days after Cambodia’s military police distributed images of its forces pointing AK-47s at mock protesters, it said yesterday that its commander, Sao Sokha, told officers he hopes people use their right to vote “correctly” to select the right leaders.
Sokha, a longtime ally of Prime Minister Hun Sen, presided over a meeting of about 500 military police officers from around the nation on Tuesday, telling them that he hoped people would make wise decisions when the June commune elections arrive.
Sokha said that he “hopes that the use of these rights as citizens will be done correctly to select leaders who are smart and talented to bring us harmony, peace, and who know the world and region and Cambodia”, according to the Facebook post yesterday.
“At the same time, we have to control information about security, signs of terrorism and signs that destroy elections . . . in order to protect security, peace and political stability and social order for the upcoming elections,” it then quoted the military police commander saying.
Another post said he noted that insecurity had harmed or overturned “legitimate governments” in Georgia, Ukraine, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria through “colour revolutions” and urged the officers to study how to stop that without violating human rights.
National military police spokesman Eng Hy said by telephone yesterday that Sokha was referring to Hun Sen and his CPP when he said he hoped citizens will use their voting rights “correctly”.
“He was referring to the prime minister who has led us well – Prime Minister Hun Sen who has led the country to have development today,” Hy said, before adding that officers were still free to vote for whomever they wished and would be protected by the secret ballot.
“We do not know who they will vote for.” CNRP lawmaker Cheam Channy said if Sokha was indeed promoting a vote for the CPP, he did not think it was appropriate for a senior military officer.
“The army must have a clear stance, because the armed forces need to take a neutral stance, and all commanders must respect the army ethic that requires the army take a neutral stance,” Channy said.
“An appeal to the army to vote for this or that person impacts on the neutrality of the army.”