CNRP budget announced for soldiers who defect

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Sam Rainsy spoke to the media when he was in Cambodia in 2015. Hong Menea

The permanent committee of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) said it has a budget for soldiers who defect from Prime Minister Hun Sen when “acting president” Sam Rainsy returns on November 9.

An analyst said such an action amounted to forming a coup, while the government dismissed the claim as “propaganda”.

The CNRP permanent committee on Sunday issued a press release on the results of a two-day meeting in the US.

It did not say how much was in the budget.

The meeting, held in Lowell, Massachusetts, decided on several issues, it said, including preparations for the return of Rainsy and senior CNRP leadership to Asia on November 5.

The delegating of tasks to CNRP members at all levels inside and outside the Kingdom had also been determined, as had calling on migrant workers to return with them to Cambodia on November 9.

“Preparing a budget for the members of the military that defect from Hun Sen and turn themselves over to protecting the people on November 9,” says the third point of the press release.

Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrith said on Monday that the money used for the return of the CNRP leaders had come from supporters, especially Cambodians living abroad.

He declined to elaborate on the money for defecting soldiers.

Government spokesperson Phay Siphan dismissed the CNRP’s claims.

“This is merely propaganda, nothing more. The government will work to ensure public order and national security in order to increase economic growth. I don’t believe [the CNRP].

“The military fought to save thecountry. They won’t do anything to cause problems for their nation. They have spouses, children and families who need peace. They want to improve the livelihoods of their families,’ Siphan said.

Sok Touch, the president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said on Monday that offering financial assistance to soldiers who defected amounted to a coup.

“Turning guns [on the government] and providing money to the military amounts to a coup or a revolution. This would be an even more serious act of treason – they are going from bad to worse.

“The CNRP or those involved in this meeting have become traitorous because they have betrayed the Constitution and Cambodian laws which say the government is born out of elections,” Touch said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said the offer of financial assistance to the military was to get them to support Rainsy’s “people’s power” movement to change the government as had been seen in the Philippines in the 1980s.

Soldiers had supported the “People Power” series of protests in Manila that led to the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos.

“Whether such an action is a coup d’état or not is irrelevant unless those soldiers actually take the lead to seize power,” Mong Hay said.

Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia had sent warrants for Rainsy’s arrest to neighbouring Laos and Thailand, and that others would be sent to the remaining Asean member states.

Siphan said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation was tasked with this.

However, he said it could be done by sending the warrants to the embassies of each country in Phnom Penh.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ket Sophann did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.

Chanrith said the CNRP leadership’s plans to return on November 9 remained unchanged, and he was unconcerned by the arrest warrants being sent to Asean nations.

However, Touch said he believed that Rainsy would not be able to enter any Asean nation if the warrants reached them.

“This is because all Asean nations have a single destiny,” Touch said.

Mong Hay said it was not certain whether Rainsy would be arrested.

“One cannot be sure whether all Asean countries would heed the Cambodian prime minister’s request to arrest Rainsy, while the question of arrest was open with other Asian countries,” he said.