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Military Police Commander Brands Opposition Group ‘Terrorist Movement’

FILE PHOTO - National Police Chief of Cambodia Neth Savoeun, left, and National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha, right, at the Ministry of Interior in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, August 25, 2016. (Leng Len/VOA Khmer)

Sao Sokha said that Sam Rainsy and the CNRM were “preparing for terrorism, not politics, only terrorism.”

Cambodia’s top military police commander, Sao Sokha, has said the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Movement, formed by former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, is a terrorist group.

On Tuesday, Sokha told a meeting of military police officials that Rainsy and the CNRM were “preparing for terrorism, not politics, only terrorism.”

He added that any movement that the military and military police deemed to be “revolutionary” would be suppressed with force.

Rainsy, who lives in exile in France, posted on his Facebook page on Sunday that the CNRM would establish a national network throughout the country and called on the movement’s leaders in Cambodia to remain incognito.

Rainsy said in an email to VOA Khmer on Tuesday that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party was panicking over the thought of a renewed opposition movement in the country.

He said: “The CNRP and CNRM are not only non-violent organizations, but they are anti-violence in that we appeal to all Cambodians, both protesters and the armed forces, to absolutely avoid using violence.

“Any effective eruption of violence can only come from Hun Sen's henchmen and agents provocateurs as we have seen in a recent past. They caused violence in order to put the blame on the CNRP and other protesters and they used this pretext to crackdown on the opposition and the civil society.”

The creation of the CNRM caused controversy within the opposition as many CNRP members loyal to its president, Kem Sokha, announced they would not get involved. They remain working under the CNRP leadership, most of whom have left Cambodia, fearing arrest.