Prime Minister Hun Sen instructed senior CPP officials on Wednesday to begin legal action against Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha over his allegations that the ruling party has engaged in a campaign to disrupt the opposition’s election bid.
The lawsuit will be the fourth filed against Mr. Sokha in the lead-up to the July 28 national election, and will add to the opposition’s claims that the country’s politically subservient courts are being used to harass them ahead of the vote.
In what he said was likely his last unscripted speech before the start of the one-month election campaign period, Mr. Hun Sen also dared the CNRP to boycott the vote, and warned their rank-and-file members that they too would face the courts should they claim the ruling CPP is trying to disrupt their election bid.
“Please, [Khuon] Sodary and Say Chhum, seek legal action and file a lawsuit against him [Mr. Sokha] before the election,” Mr. Hun Sen said Wednesday, naming two senior CPP stalwarts, in a speech in Kandal province.
Say Chhum is the CPP’s vice president of the Senate, and Khuon Sodary is the CPP’s vice president of the National Assembly.
“You keep saying that the CPP staged it,” Mr. Hun Sen said, referring to the opposition’s claims that their meetings have been disrupted by CPP supporters and that the hand of the CPP can be seen in the three other lawsuits against Mr. Sokha.
“We will file a complaint to the court before the election,” Mr. Hun Sen said, adding that any other CNRP members who dared make the same claims would face the same fate.
“For anyone who is in that party, if you say that the CPP staged [these incidents], we will file a complaint and combine lawsuits including grandpa Chum Mey’s lawsuit and the mistress’ mother’s lawsuit,” Mr. Hun Sen said, without explaining how the two earlier suits against Mr. Sokha could be combined in a court of law.
Mr. Hun Sen also said that his actions were no different from former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings over an affair he had with a White House intern.
He also took on unnamed NGOs who have been critical of his personal attacks against Mr. Sokha; the prime minister has leveled accusations of adultery and illegally purchasing sex from a 15-year-old girl against Mr. Sokha in the past week.
“Please, NGOs who always talk about the USA, but now say that Hun Sen and the CPP are talking about personal issues…. Do you remember the sex scandal of former U.S. President Bill Clinton? Because of a drop of semen on a woman’s skirt, Mr. Clinton was summoned to Congress for a hearing,” Mr. Hun Sen said.
“Why didn’t you say [then] ‘don’t make a personal case against Mr. Clinton?’” Mr. Hun Sen asked.
Despite his serious allegations, Mr. Hun Sen has provided no evidence to support his claims against Mr. Sokha’s alleged adultery or purported purchase of sex from an underage girl.
Mr. Hun Sen also mocked the CNRP for threatening to pull out of the coming election, and called on voters not planning to vote for the CPP to vote for any party except for the CNRP.
“They are holding a press conference tomorrow,” Mr. Hun Sen said, referring to a scheduled press conference today in which the CNRP will announce whether it will contest July’s poll.
“I would like to call for you all to boycott the election, if you dare,” he said.
“Without your party, we will still have an election. We still have six more political parties,” Mr. Hun Sen said, referring to the other marginal parties listed on the ballot paper for July 28.
“So please, all people who support the opposition party, do not vote for the opposition party, vote for the CPP. If you don’t like the CPP, vote for one of the other six parties,” he said.
Twenty-seven opposition lawmakers from the SRP and Human Rights Party, who are running as candidates for the CNRP, were stripped of their parliamentary position in vote by the CPP-led National Assembly on June 6.
CPP lawmakers defended the mass expulsion saying that election laws and internal rules banned simultaneous participation in two political parties.
The CPP currently holds 90 seats in the 123-seat National Assembly, while the ruling party’s minor coalition partner, Funcinpec, has two seats.
Rounding out his speech, Mr. Hun Sen called out self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who rallied his supporters last week to “like” his Facebook page in a campaign to pass Mr. Hun Sen in online popularity. Mr. Hun Sen said that he has never used Facebook, and mocked Mr. Rainsy for having won a contest that included only him.
“You won by running alone, I do not even have any Facebook,” Mr. Hun Sen said, adding that he had confirmed with his Cabinet that they were not managing any of the profiles or pages on Facebook claiming to represent the prime minister.
“I would like to send a message to all teenagers who participate in these Facebook forums, he [Mr. Rainsy] is cheating to get your likes…. I have no Facebook to compete with anyone,” he said.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said Wednesday that the CPP is now turning to the courts to intimidate its rivals because of the strong support for the opposition.
“I would like to call on all people across the country to take action.
“They [the CPP] have caused trouble to the CNRP during public forums, destroyed party signs, kicked our lawmakers out of the National Assembly, and now they are trying to use the judicial system to make more trouble for the CNRP,” Mr. Sovann said.
“The CPP must take responsibility for all of these actions,” he added.