Funcinpec, the minor party in coalition with the ruling CPP, on Tuesday picked up on criticism of opposition leader Kem Sokha by Prime Minister Hun Sen and accused both him and fellow opposition leader Kong Korm of aiming to do away with the monarchy.
The charge has become a common trope of the government’s campaign in the lead-up to July’s national election.
In a statement posted to its website, Funcinpec accused Mr. Sokha, acting president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), of insulting all those who survived or died during the Khmer Rouge regime for comments he made accusing Vietnam of fabricating the torture and killing that took place at the regime’s notorious Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh.
“The claims by these two opposition leaders are deceitful and actually cause confusion among their compatriots, national and international,” the Funcinpec statement reads.
“The claim by Mr. Kem Sokha is an insult to the dead souls of our compatriots, Cambodian people, who passed away during the cruelties of the Pol Pot regime, and it is insulting to all Cambodians nationwide who survived the mass killing regime,” the statement adds.
Funcinpec’s statement also accuses both Mr. Sokha and Mr. Korm, president of the SRP, which recently merged with the Human Rights Party to create the CNRP, of wanting to topple the Monarchy.
“Mr. Kong Korm’s comments insulted His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk, the heroic king, and unjustly blamed him. Funcinpec considers the activities of these two opposition leaders as aiming to eliminate the Monarchy in Cambodia.”
The statement follows the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit on Monday posting on its website transcripts of a speech it claims Mr. Korm delivered Friday, in which he said the late King orchestrated his own overthrow in 1970 by Lon Nol.
According to the transcript, Mr. Korm said: “Lon Nol did not betray the King, but the King himself ordered Lon Nol. The King ordered Lon Nol, that now there is chaos you should be a prime minister to lead the government called the national rescue government.”
Mr. Korm on Tuesday denied claiming that the late King staged his own overthrow, clarifying that he said only that Norodom Sihanouk had made Lon Nol prime minister—a position he actually assumed in 1969, the year before the coup—to lead the fight against the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese communist forces that had infiltrated the country.
“The King appointed him [Lon Nol] as prime minister to rescue his nation,” said Mr. Korm, who also accused the government of misrepresenting his comments to sully the opposition’s name ahead of July’s election.
The CNRP has also accused the government of misrepresenting the Khmer Rouge comments of Mr. Sokha, whom it says never denied that the Khmer Rouge had committed crimes at Tuol Sleng.