Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday chided the 53 opposition lawmakers who on Wednesday wrote to King Norodom Sihamoni asking him to intervene to fix a deteriorating political situation, saying they were trying to “trick” the king.
“A report from some politicians to the king said that Cambodia is in a crisis, which is not true. Please let them do a clear review,” Mr. Hun Sen said during a speech in Preah Sihanouk province.
“They themselves are enjoying the holiday today…which means they don’t have a crisis.”
He said he believed the CNRP was trying to dupe King Sihamoni into thinking the situation was falling apart but that he doubted the king would be moved.
“Just cheating the people is not enough, they went to cheat the king—but the king can consider things. This means he can see how [the situation] is,” he said.
Mr. Hun Sen’s comments mirrored those last week from CPP spokesman Sok Eysan, who said he thought King Sihamoni’s reaction to the letter—or lack of one—would reflect whether the king thought things were bad.
There has been no public response from King Sihamoni to the CNRP’s letter. Oum Daravuth, an adviser for the royal family who often speaks on their behalf, could not be reached on Sunday.
The CNRP’s letter called for the king to exercise his duties under a constitutional stipulation that says he “shall assume the august role of arbitrator to ensure the faithful execution of public powers.”
Yet the CNRP’s letter was last week slammed by Prince Sisowath Thomico, the only member of the royal family to openly support the opposition, who said the king should remain above politics.
“I am very sorry that the CNRP did not consult me on this. I would have told them this: He cannot intervene,” the prince said last week.
The past month has seen an opposition lawmaker imprisoned, five rights activists arrested over deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha’s sex scandal, an opposition commune chief jailed in the same case, and even threats to arrest a U.N. official.