Embassies Warned CNRP Wants Coup

The government has informed foreign embassies in the country that the opposition’s threatened demonstrations over the election results are intended to illegally overthrow the elected CPP-led government, a ministry spokesman said Wednesday.

Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said that letters were sent to more than 40 embassies, along with local and international NGOs, warning them of the government’s fears that demonstrations held by the CNRP could be used as an attempt to conduct a coup.

“This was a serious letter to the embassies that some of the words that we have heard [at CNRP rallies] encourage people at the demonstrations to topple and change the government—words like ‘throw out, throw out, throw out,’ and ‘change, change, change,’” Lt. Gen. Sopheak said.

“If they love Cambodia, they would not do this activity. The Royal Government of Cambodia is the elected government,” he added.

Though the CPP’s claim to victory was supported by preliminary results released by the National Election Committee (NEC) earlier this month, the CNRP has also claimed victory and has demanded that an impartial investigation into election irregularities be conducted.

China and Vietnam are among a handful of countries that have congratulated the CPP on their victory, while Cambodia’s major Western donors, along with Japan and the majority of Asean member states, have refrained from endorsing preliminary election results.

Final election results are expected to be released by the Constitutional Council of Cambodia by September 8.

The E.U., U.S. and Australia have all backed calls from the CNRP and civil society for an independent investigation into the vote.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh confirmed Wednesday that the embassy had “received something from the Ministry of Interior,” though he did not elaborate on its contents.

“We encourage all parties to participate in a peaceful manner in this post-election environment. We do encourage peaceful activity,” he said.

A spokesman for the Australian Embassy said that the embassy has not received a letter from the Ministry of Interior, but nonetheless continued to back calls for a transparent investigation into election irregularities and called for respect for freedom of assembly.

“We welcome the calm conduct of the election…and call on all sides of politics to respect the universal right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and to refrain from violence,” a spokesman for the embassy said in an email.

At a rally attended by more than 10,000 CNRP supporters on Monday, opposition leaders Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy promised to hold mass demonstrations if the CPP does not cooperate in an impartial investigation into alleged electoral fraud.

On Wednesday, the CNRP announced in a statement that it would preemptively stage a mass protest against election results on September 7 unless the CPP returned to the negotiating table and made progress in the formation of the investigation commission.

Elected CNRP lawmakers have also promised to boycott the National Assembly if their demands for an investigation are not met, a move that Prime Minister Hun Sen has said would allow the NEC to give their seats to the CPP.

Lt. Gen. Sopheak said that as long as the CNRP’s demonstrations remained “within the framework of law there will be no problem,” though he declined to elaborate on the size and scope of activities that would be tolerated by the government.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng has previously told the CNRP to keep their rallies within the confines of Freedom Park and warned that leaders of opposition protests will be held to account under the law should their activities turn violent or cause public disorder.

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