PHNOM PENH —
Prime Minister Hun Sen used the anniversary of the creation of his ruling Cambodian People’s Party to attack independent election monitoring groups.
He slammed the Situation Room, a collection of election monitoring NGOs, for painting the Cambodian political landscape as “gloomy” and called on members of parliament to make more amendments to the political parties law to prevent people with criminal records from engaging in politics.
Speaking to thousands of supporters at a party rally in Phnom Penh, he questioned the legitimacy of the Situation Room, which last month said the recent local elections were not fully free and fair.
“Some problems must be solved in the future. What is the ‘Situation Room’, which created a strong gloomy [environment] around the election result? Is the Situation Room registered with the Ministry of Interior?”
He went on to claim the group’s true motive could be to foment a “color revolution” to topple his government, a frequent accusation made by Hun Sen against independent civil society groups.
He said if the government found evidence to support the claim it would take “immediate action” against them.
He added that the Situation Room had downplayed the efforts by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and National Election Committee (NEC) to improve election transparency and the lack of political violence or intimidation surrounding the vote.
The Situation Room claimed last week that it had observed numerous irregularities during the election campaign, but admitted that overall it had seen an improvement on the 2017 local elections.
The NEC said in a statement that it regretted the groups’ assessment as it could lead to confusion.
Hun Sen also said at the rally that he was displeased by negative comments from opposition politicians who had been convicted of crimes in the past and called on officials to further legislate to prevent politicians with criminal records from political participation.
“We don’t want such people to be involved in our national achievements,” he said.
Sam Rainsy, the former CNRP president who was convicted of defaming a former foreign minister and now lives in exile in France to avoid serving the sentence, was vocal in the election period, calling Hun Sen a “coward”.
Sok Eysan, CPP spokesman, said the party would meet shortly to discuss further amendments to the law governing political parties with a view to preventing Rainsy from holding a political platform.
Yim Sovann, CNRP spokesman, could not be reached for comment.