A new round of barbs opened between an opposition lawmaker and Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday, with the Sam Rainsy Party’s Mu Sochua cautioning the premier to curb rhetoric about a crackdown on the opposition.
On Wednesday, Hun Sen responded to critics of the government by saying he had the power to eliminate the opposition through force in only two hours but hadn’t.
“I as the prime minister use the court of law, and it is the same as the armed forces if it is not allowed,” Hun Sen told a forum in Phnom Penh. “Is it the rifles or what? I only need two hours to take over all of Phnom Penh. If you want to try, from this hour, I only need two hours, not longer than that, to grab you all.”
Mu Sochua, who is in the US, told VOA Khmer Thursday she was “horrified” by the comments.
“I think that such language should not be used at all, especially by a leader,” she said.
Mu Sochua was fined earlier this month in a suit brought by Hun Sen after she charged he had defamed her in a derogatory speech in April.
She has said she will appeal the decision, which spot-lighted alleged political bias in the courts.
The government and the courts have come under increased scrutiny lately, following a rash of court cases against opposition lawmakers, journalists and rights workers that critics say could mark a crackdown on government dissent.