Defense Minister Tells CNRP Boycotters to Get to Work

The CNRP should end its three-month boycott of the National Assembly and have greater respect for rules and regulations, Defense Minister Tea Banh said Thursday in his second biting attack on the opposition party in as many weeks.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a workshop on disability in Phnom Penh, General Banh said that the CNRP’s daily protests against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s rule were nothing more than “entertainment.”

“In a few days it is going to be three months since they began boycotting the National Assembly after the election,” said Gen. Banh, who last week told Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldiers to brush up on Khmer history to avoid falling for the opposition’s destabilizing “propaganda,” which, he claimed, could lead to war.

“I think that people voted for them to work—to meet in the National Assembly with us to work for the nation and the country,” he said.

The CNRP’s 55 lawmakers-elect have refused to take their seats at the Assembly to protest July’s national election, which is believed to have been riddled with irregularities that favored Mr. Hun Sen’s CPP.

“Did people vote for you to protest along the roads?” Gen. Banh said.

“How many of them [voters] want you to do such a thing? They voted for them to work, discuss and solve the country’s problems in the National Assembly,” Gen. Banh said.

“Their ambition is to do the things they want to do, but they have to think,” he said. “Every country has rules and procedures. You can’t just do anything to reach your ambitions. These ambitions might not be fair, or might not have met their right time yet.”

CNRP lawmaker-elect Tioulong Saumura, the wife of CNRP President Sam Rainsy, said that the CNRP has done nothing but listen and respond to voters’ concerns, and that the CPP could benefit from doing the same: listening to the people.

“We are people’s representatives and we have to represent our voters,” she said.

“I consider my main task to be a representative of my constituents. If my constituents say ‘don’t take up the seats until the electoral irregularities have been properly investigated,’ I obey my constituents.”

(Additional reporting by Lauren Crothers)

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