Cambodia’s government is building up the presence of security forces across the country in anticipation of a public outcry in response to a court decision that could see the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) dissolved in the lead up to next year’s general election.
CNRP President Kem Sokha was arrested on Sept. 3 for allegedly collaborating with the U.S. to overthrow the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), and Cambodia’s Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to disband the CNRP for its alleged involvement in the “conspiracy” on Nov. 16.
International rights groups urged the Supreme Court to assert its independence from the CPP and dismiss the case against the opposition, but armed forces continued to stream into Cambodia’s urban areas Wednesday, suggesting the decision to dissolve the CNRP was a done deal a day ahead of the hearing.
More than 300 security personnel conducted exercises at police headquarters in the seat of western Cambodia’s Battambang province on Wednesday morning before being deployed to various posts around the city.
In a video clip posted on the website of the provincial police, Battambang governor Nguon Ratanak instructs the troops to crack down on anyone who protests the outcome of Thursday’s decision, expressing concern that “people may be easily fooled and incited to stand up against the government by political groups.”
The buildup of security personnel in Battambang and other parts of the country followed an order earlier this week by Interior Minister Sar Kheng to create provincial “standby working groups” from Nov. 15 “monitor and settle on a prompt basis … various issues of concern in connection with any acts of trickery aimed at overthrowing our legitimate government.”
Last week, the Cambodian National Police General Commissariat’s Central Department of Public Orders, instructed subordinate branches to establish 24-hour standby groups of combat-uniformed security forces ready to “mobilize” when the Supreme Court hears the CNRP dissolution case.
Residents of Battambang told RFA’s Khmer Service Wednesday that they were intimidated by the buildup, and viewed it as an encroachment on their rights.
“I feel very bad that we are being deprived of our freedoms of speech and assembly,” said one resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“I don’t want [the authorities] to do this, but I can’t say anything for fear that I might be mistreated.”
Full story: rfa.org
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Nareth Muong. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.
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