The ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday slammed demonstrations held in Australia last week against a visit by Hun Manet, the first son of the prime minister, as stoking tensions amid an already uneasy political environment.
In a statement the CPP accused Hong Lim, a state lawmaker in the Victoria legislature, of orchestrating the protests in an attempt to aggravate the situation in Cambodia and to influence opinion in Australia.
The protest was held to express discontent with the slow progress of an official inquiry into the daylight shooting of prominent political analyst Kem Ley in July, which is widely believed to have been a political assassination.
Lim accused the CPP during the demonstration on Friday in Melbourne of being “the one behind his death,” echoing the president of the main opposition, Sam Rainsy, who has taken a similar line, accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen of direct involvement.
“It’s been more than three months and we even see the 100-day commemoration of his death, but there is still no leads as to who is really behind the killing,” Lim said.
He added that the protest was not held in coordination with Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party, nor did members of the CNRP officially take part in the protest.
Lim was in August banned from entering Cambodia after labeling the regime “a beast.”
In its statement, the CPP condemned the killing of Kem Ley and called on the investigating authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Meas Ny, a Phnom Penh-based analyst, cautioned against holding protests outside Cambodia which could inflame the situation.
“I think that the local political parties should not get involved in demonstrations held overseas related to the political affairs of the nation on issues where there is no clear evidence,” he said, adding that the government, for its part, should not consider every minor protest as an attempt to foment revolution.
Sok Eysan, CPP spokesman, said Lim was being irresponsible.
“He’s Khmer, but he doesn’t have the brain of a Khmer,” he said. “It’s meaningless...there’s no honor in this.”
Manet countered on Facebook on Saturday, saying that the demonstration had only drawn 150 people, whereas more than 600 had attended an event where he was present, without incident.
This was not the first time an overseas visit by Manet has been met with opposition. A previous visit to the United States was marred by scandal when a lawyer attempted to deliver a subpoena, listing a number of serious charges against the high-ranking military officer, to a restaurant where he was eating, only to be allegedly attacked by one of Manet’s bodyguards.