Cambodia PM warns opposition
CAMBODIA’S strongman premier vowed yesterday to “eliminate” his opponents if they push ahead with plans for nationwide protests against an ongoing government crackdown that has sparked international alarm.
The latest rhetoric, some of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s strongest in recent months, ratchets up worsening political tensions in the kingdom, which will hold national elections in 2018.
Rights groups have accused longruling Prime Minister Hun Sen’s administration of arresting scores of critics and tying up other opponents in legal cases.
The main opposition party’s deputy leader Kem Sokha has been holed up for weeks in his office, sleeping on a makeshift bed.
He was handed a jail sentence earlier this month for refusing to appear in court over an alleged sex scandal prosecution that the opposition say is politically motivated.
His party has threatened to hold nationwide demonstrations if moves are made to arrest him or if the crackdown continues.
“Don’t threaten [me] with demonstrations in exchange for talks. No way, youngest brother,” Mr Hun Sen said at a university graduation ceremony yesterday in a characteristically lengthy speech.
“This is not just a warning. It is more serious than a warning because it is an order to eliminate those who destroy security and social order,” he said, adding that foreign countries had no right to criticise his administration.
Last week a group of 36 states – including the European Union and the United States – issued a joint statement saying they were “deeply concerned” about escalating political tensions in Cambodia.
Mr Hun Sen, a former army commander who defected from the Khmer Rouge, has dominated Cambodian politics for the past 31 years.
His administration claims it has brought much needed peace and stability to a nation ravaged by civil war.
Hun Sen has vowed to eliminate his opponents.