PHNOM PENH —
Cambodia’s defense minister has warned that the military will use force against any movement found to be plotting sedition ahead of elections due to be held over the next two years.
General Tea Banh told reporters on Thursday following the donation of more than 200 military and civilian vehicles by South Korea that the armed forces would not hesitate to use equipment provided by foreign powers on its own people if it believed they were planning a “color revolution”.
“I think either a color revolution, or whatever it is, as long as it brings destruction to the country or causes danger, these vehicles will surely contribute and will be equipped in each unit. They will contribute to protection and maintaining our achievement,” he said
Meas Ny, a social analyst, said there was no evidence of revolutionary plots to overthrow the government, adding that Banh’s warning could be a further sign of paranoia among the country’s elite in the run up to elections some are predicting it could lose.
“They are afraid that the government will be the one to change,” he said. “People are worried about a return to communism. This is how citizens see it.”
Sok Eysan, a ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman, dismissed suggestions that Cambodia was turning its back on liberal multi-party democracy in favor of Chinese-style state-controlled capitalism and authoritarian rule.
“The Cambodian constitution ... states that any change in the political system cannot happen,” he said.
South Korea has stepped up its military aid to Cambodia, donating vehicles and machinery three times so far this year.