Some 300 Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec bodyguards wrapped up a five-day training course on Tuesday sponsored by the International Republican Institute.
The security personnel were trained in methods of unarmed protection for opposition leader Sam Rainsy and Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh, the two outspoken leaders of the Alliance of Democrats, said Long Ry, Sam Rainsy Party steering committee member and director of the opposition’s security department.
Led by a US instructor, the bodyguards were trained to protect homes, motorcades and meetings of top leaders, Long Ry said.
It is the second course sponsored by IRI since the first course in June 2003, just prior to the July general election, Long Ry said. An IRI official declined to comment.
“The training takes place while the threats, killing and intimidation are increasing,” Long Ry said.
Opposition security guards do not carry weapons and training is aimed at disabling armed assailants, Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Ung Bun-Ang said Tuesday. The bodyguards train “to disarm people in a crowd, they are not trained to shoot,” he said.
Most opposition party security personnel have no military or police training and the courses are aimed at teaching them the basics of VIP security, an opposition party member said.
Though Cambodia maintains a large police and military police force, the country’s leaders have long opted for the protection of small armies of better-trained and better-equipped bodyguards, whose loyalty is unquestioned.
In 1995, then first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh had some 400 bodyguards, a sizable proportion were trained in special “commando” tactics.
The same year, then second prime minister Hun Sen created his own force of some 200 bodyguards, called Battalion Number Two, supported by at least six tanks and several armored personnel carriers. Hun Sen’s bodyguard detachment has swelled to some 2,000 armed men stationed at his residence near the Independence Monument and at his home in Kandal province.