Officials tackle ‘coup attempt’

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Takeo provincial governor Ouch Phea during in a meeting with senior representatives of provincial courts and relevant authorities. Photo supplied

Three provincial leaders this week held meetings with senior representatives of their provincial courts and other relevant authorities to discuss measures to deal with what the Ministry of Justice has described as an attempted “coup” by former opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

The meetings, in Banteay Meanchey, Prey Veng and Takeo provinces, followed Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) “acting president” Rainsy’s appeal to citizens to exercise “people power” by standing up to topple the government when he returns on November 9.

Takeo Provincial Court spokesman Phan Sopheak said provincial governor Ouch Phea held an urgent meeting with the president of the provincial court, the provincial court prosecutor and relevant authorities on Wednesday to bring to their attention a press release issued by Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana on September 26.

He said the press release concerned the introduction of measures to strengthen law enforcement by taking legal action against any activities affecting national security or public order, particularly regarding Rainsy’s attempted coup.

“We are strengthening the districts and disseminating information about current legal principles regarding the present situation.

“We made a presentation to the officials present about the legal issues and we have asked the police to report to the prosecutor whenever a potential problem arises, so the prosecutor can provide legal advice.

“Local leaders have been spreading the word about Sam Rainsy’s coup attempt,” Sopheak said.

According to a post on the official Ministry of Justice Facebook page on Tuesday, Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Um Reatrey held a similar meeting that day with senior court officials to address the same issues and highlight the points made in the ministry’s September 26 press release.

“At this meeting, the president and the prosecutor [of the provincial court] provided advice on several legal aspects relating to potential acts of violence against national institutions and threats to public order.

“Any activity that directly or indirectly engages in this scheme to overthrow the legitimate head of government is a criminal offence and is punishable under the Criminal Code of the Kingdom of Cambodia,” the post said.

The ministry said senior officials from the Prey Veng Provincial Hall on Monday also met with the provincial court president, its vice-president, judges, the prosecutor and deputy prosecutors with the same agenda.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said the ministry and relevant institutions have to disseminate information widely to all relevant stakeholders to prevent acts that affect public order or national security.

“It is important that we not only have the participation of the authorities but also the people. Spreading the word like this serves to ensure that people cooperate to prevent and suppress such crimes,” he said.