PHNOM PENH —
The ruling Cambodian People’s Party has accused the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party of forging thumbprints on a petition it sent to the Royal Palace, which called for intervention from the king to put an end to simmering political tensions.
The CNRP claimed it had collected over a hundred thousand thumbprints from supporters for the petition, which was submitted on Monday following a long standoffs with armed police who attempted to block a march to the palace, but eventually relented and allowed the demonstrators to pass.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday ordered the Ministry of Interior to conduct an investigation to determine whether any of the thumbprints were forgeries.
However, by Wednesday, the ministry could not confirm if there were any forged thumbprints, while the opposition said it was ready to have the fingerprints tested.
“The investigation takes time,” said Khieu Sopheak, Ministry of Interior spokesman. “We need to check if there are any duplicated or fake thumbprints or directly go to local people.”
He added that if guilt was established, the CNRP would risk legal action over an “immoral act” that insults the king and the public, as well as fraud.
The CNRP issued a statement on Wednesday denying the fraud allegations.
Son Chhay, the party’s chief whip, said it was the opposition’s “responsibility to deliver the citizen’s suggestions to the king to seek intervention to stop the arrest of Kem Sokha”.
The CNRP has come under fire from the courts and ruling party in recent weeks, which analysts say is an attempt to fragment the country’s main opposition ahead of elections in 2017 and 2018.
Kem Sokha is facing two defamation suits and allegations he procured the services of a prostitute, while CNRP president Sam Rainsy remains in self-imposed exile after a warrant was issued for his arrest in November over a separate defamation ruling.