In his latest move to seize power in the Kingdom, Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) “acting president” Sam Rainsy has called for a rebellion to change the government.
His call was poorly received among government officials, a political analyst and even CNRP deputy president Pol Ham, who said he does not support Rainsy’s call.
Speaking to his supporters in the US, Rainsy said in a video clip posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday: “In 2019, we have to take over Cambodia and hand it to the people. This is the story and our goal in history in which we have to join this mission to successfully take over Cambodia and give it to the people.”
He claimed that this year presented the best opportunity to take over the country, and called on Cambodians abroad to join with the people in the country who, he claimed, were in fear of standing up.
“Therefore, we gather our forces to enter the country and urge Cambodian citizens in the country to rise up to demand a change that we wish for,” he said, adding that he will “try to avoid bloodshed”.
He said there were activities inside the country with some activists taking action in public, while some were doing so in secret. He urged his supporters to persuade the military not to defend Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Pol Ham said he could not speculate on Rainsy’s claim that he would return to Cambodia as he was never in contact with him. But he said he doesn’t support calling on the people to rise up against the government.
“As we know, I am still banned from participating in politics. But even if I now have political rights, I don’t have a plan to gather people to do anything that is against the law. Whatever he [Rainsy] does, it is in no way linked to me,” he said.
Commenting on Rainsy’s call, ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan mocked him, and said if Rainsy wanted to change the government, he must return to the Kingdom and not try to effect a change from abroad.
“If you want to change the government like [you] shouted to do, please, the convict, the companions and the young [self-] exiled analysts . . . return to Cambodia to change the government flagrante delicto [latin for in blazing offence]."
“The Cambodian people don’t need to be incited [by Rainsy] from afar. If you directly lead this [rebellion], you would be called a brave man. [But] if you just shout from far away, it is nonsense,” he said.
Eysan said Rainsy always said the opposite of reality, such as by claiming Cambodia was in chaos and poverty while the truth is that it is prospering.
“The self-exiled convict dare not return [to Cambodia], but he wants to arrest Samdech Hun Sen."
“He is losing supporters [in the Kingdom] but instead saying there were millions of supporters abroad,” Ey Eysan said.
Likewise, government spokesperson Phay Siphan said Cambodia did not bar Rainsy from returning. But the government would act against the return if it comes in the form of rebel groups, let alone alleged supporters.
“His appeal is characteristic of a rebellion which causes chaos and goes against Cambodian law. The government will take action through all means."
“The stance of the armed forces is already clear . . . they have committed to respect the law, protect the government, and prevent all insurgent groups, and any other that goes against the government,” he said.
Adding his voice to Rainsy’s call to rebellion, political analyst Lao Mong Hay said: “I disapprove and condemn such a call. [There would] possibly be strife between rival parties whose dimensions and outcome, as past strife has shown, are unpredictable.”
In the meantime, CNRP supporters stationed in Europe plan to hold a protest in Brussels, Belgium on March 1 to demand “the respect of Human Rights in Cambodia”.
Norn Hy, 73, a CNRP supporter in Belgium said on Wednesday that the planned protest would be held in support of the possible withdrawal of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential tariff agreement.
“They [the EU] may decide on this in March. We support the decision if the sixth mandate government doesn’t follow the five points it [the EU] demanded in restoring democracy and freedom for the people."
“We know that the consequences would be huge if [the government] doesn’t follow them,” he said in a phone call.