Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has urged supporters of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to denounce the promised November 9 return of CNRP “acting president” Sam Rainsy and publicly state that they will not participate in plotting a “coup” to topple the government.
Sar Kheng said at an English-speaking contest in Prey Veng province on Saturday: “We protect security, stability and the government, but they collude together to destroy peace and topple the elected government. They cause instability and slow down development.
“The wise choice is not to participate and to state that clearly. Within their people, many are denying participation already.
“[Rainsy’s] plan is to take the opportunity to rush in and rally forces supporting him to topple the elected government. His return is not about good intentions . . . rather it would bring about a war.
“We’re now celebrating the Water Festival and Independence Day, and he is coming to divide [the nation] and cause problems and discontent,” he said.
Sar Kheng, who is also deputy prime minister, called on the police and the public to help prevent any attempt to topple the government or destroy peace, stability and development.
“Don’t threaten, accuse, intimidate or discredit those who are not involved with Rainsy’s coup plan,” he said.
Ministry of Justice spokesman Kim Santepheap said on Sunday: “People at all levels within the CNRP structure are involved in plotting a coup to topple the legitimate government and the monarchy. It is the authorities’ responsibility to take legal action against such people.
“Hence, to be absolved from legal responsibility for this crime, please come to your senses, present yourselves and confess to the police immediately about your plot. You will be exonerated of the penalty,” he said.
A woman named Pen Mom from Kampot province was arrested on Saturday in Phnom Penh in relation to plotting Rainsy’s return.
A court summons issued on Wednesday said she had been posting on Facebook almost every day since the CNRP was dissolved in November 2017 and more recently had attempted to mobilise the public to join Rainsy’s plot.
On Friday, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued a warrant to arrest Morn Phalla, 44, the former head of the CNRP’s executive committee in the capital.
He was charged with “plotting” after being labelled a mastermind behind the “propaganda and incitement” by two former CNRP commune chiefs who had themselves been arrested last week, a court press release said.
Ros Kim Sieng, a Rainsy return plotter, was released on bail on Friday after he confessed at the Kampong Thom provincial police headquarters and subsequently appealed to all his former colleagues and friends not to listen to Rainsy’s “provocation and appeals”.
“When the authorities arrest you like me, you will certainly suffer,” he said.
Ny Sokha, the head of human rights and land at rights group Adhoc, said: “This is politically motivated, not law enforcement. Politicians should not use the legal system to resolve political issues as it makes the situation more difficult to resolve.”
National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said some civil society organisations always unreasonably criticised the government.
“It’s only a handful of civil society organisations. They are biased and exploit the situation. What is important is that we all see the real situation together,” he said.