Speaking to about 500 soldiers at an annual conference of Cambodia’s Navy at its base in Phnom Penh, Defense Minister Tea Banh told members of the armed forces to confront the opposition CNRP if it spreads false information about the ruling party.
Claiming that opposition leaders have become increasingly strident during recent speeches at public forums throughout the country, General Banh told soldiers to intervene if the CNRP makes bogus verbal attacks against the CPP government.
“Things are heating up because of the use of rhetoric, incitement, provocation and the collection of all bad things [by the CNRP] to strongly attack the government and the CPP, and they say that only the CNRP can topple the CPP and Hun Sen,” Gen. Banh said.
“From today onward, we cannot delay and when they go to some places to persuade—twisting the facts to incite—we have to catch them and bring them for questioning,” he said.
“Where did the news come from? And if you want change, change to what and change to whom?” he added.
Gen. Banh’s comments come a day after deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha reassured opposition supporters at a forum in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva district that the CNRP was still working to oust Mr. Hun Sen from power.
“Our goal is the same—to change today’s leaders,” Mr. Sokha told more than 1,000 supporters.
But Gen. Banh said the CNRP’s campaign to change the government must be met with efforts by the armed forces to raise support for the ruling party.
“Frankly, even though it is not the election campaign, we still have to gather and collect a large amount of votes that will provide protection,” he said.
“Before, we protected [the government] by entering battles to stop the war, but now it is not like that. However, we still must make our stance clear,” Gen. Banh said.
“They gathered some people and started to attack and it started to heat up, so we have to fight back.”