Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday vowed to cease all public comments and speeches from June 26 to election day on July 27, saying his planned one-month of silence was customary and necessary to ensure a calm lead-up to polling day.
Hun Sen also called on his CPP supporters to show their political maturity and refrain from violence if provoked by the comments of political parties. Lawsuits should be pursued instead, the prime minister said.
“I have responded enough about the political and the economic,” Hun Sen said in his speech during a school inauguration ceremony in Takeo province.
“It is my habit that during the election campaign, I do not campaign. People cannot listen to Hun Sen’s speeches for a month. I try to avoid confrontation. I want to win the election, but we want a free, fair and non-violent election,” he said.
Hun Sen also challenged his detractors, saying he did not have to respond to their criticisms as the result on election day would speak for him.
“I do not have to respond. When the ballots are counted, it is the result,” he said.
“CPP officials, please be patient, [follow the] code of conduct and show our party is a mature party…. If [they] curse in front of you, do not attack them. Walk away, and try to pursue lawsuits.”
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, confirmed that Hun Sen has traditionally maintained a month of silence before national elections.
However, Koul Panha said that as an incumbent prime minister who is standing for re-election, Hun Sen should rethink his strategy.
“There should be a debate between the prime minister candidates,” he said.
SRP leader Sam Rainsy said on Wednesday that he wanted Hun Sen to continue campaigning in public, and to give him an opportunity to challenge the premier to a debate on national issues.
“We want to do the same as the US,” Sam Rainsy said. “We must be brave to be challenged in front of the voters. I want to challenge him with my wisdom in front of the voters,” he added.
Nguon Nhel, CPP National Assembly first vice president, said that Hun Sen’s announced silence ahead of the election would inspire party activists to work even harder.
“The CPP is disciplined,” Nguon Nhel added.