Prime Minister Hun Sen has declared his government victorious in its war on “color revolution”.
Ahead of planned parliamentary elections next year, Hun Sen’s government led a crackdown on political opponents, disbanding the opposition and jailing its leader, and targeting independent media outlets and civil society groups.
Speaking to military officers on Tuesday at the opening of a military intelligence school, Hun Sen equated the opposition’s alleged efforts to unseat him with terrorism.
“We have already broken its backbone, cut off its head, and eliminated the body of the ‘color revolution’ organization,” he said. “But their backers are not stopping as their attempts on us remain in place.”
“This is perhaps the first time in the history of color revolutions that they have failed,” he added.
He pointed to the war-torn states of Syria and Libya as examples where popular uprisings had led to disastrous consequences for the population, calling on the military to be vigilant as the “backers [of revolution] do not stop here.”
Mu Sochua, the vice president of the now defunct CNRP, said Hun Sen’s narrative of a shadowy “color revolution” was “imagined with one purpose: to eliminate rights and freedom of speech, association, and freedom of choice to select the leader the people want.”
The United States, European Union and United Nations have all condemned the government’s actions.
Both Washington and Brussels have since withdrawn financial support for next year’s general election, while the United States has gone a step further by imposing visa restrictions on some officials it charged with “undermining democracy”.
A ruling Cambodian People’s Party official told reporters this week that Washington had placed 51 officials on its visa restrictions list.
The United States has denied all allegations that it was involved in a plot to overthrow Hun Sen.