Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday asked opposition leader Sam Rainsy to join him for a ritual oath-taking ceremony at a popular shrine in Phnom Penh to jointly swear that Mr. Rainsy should be killed by lightning and bullets if his accusations that the 2013 national election was stolen are incorrect.
Speaking at a National Assembly session to pass the new Disaster Management Law, Mr. Hun Sen hit back at what he said is a tendency among opposition lawmakers to make outlandish claims to gain votes.
Sparked by a speech made by CNRP lawmaker Lim Kimya, who suggested that the Cambodian Red Cross prioritizes CPP supporters in post-disaster relief efforts, Mr. Hun Sen said it was time to up the stakes for the opposition.
“The only way we can resolve these issues is an oath of lightning,” Mr. Hun Sen told the Assembly floor. “When His Excellency Sam Rainsy comes back, we will persuade him to take an oath at the Preah Ang Dangker shrine.”
“First, it will be about the election. We have to persuade [Mr. Rainsy] to take an oath; whoever does not dare to take an oath is cheating the people,” Mr. Hun Sen said. “Then, there is the issue of the Red Cross giving gifts discriminately: Do you dare to take the oath of lightning?”
Mr. Hun Sen added that if Mr. Rainsy was prepared, he would take an oath alongside him swearing on his own life that the CPP’s 2013 election victory was won fairly.
“Do any parties dare to swear with the CPP at the [Preah] Ang Dangker shrine?” he asked. “If the CPP stole the election, let all of the CPP die through bullets, lightning and everything. Whoever was the liar, and made the wrong accusations will get the same—the lightning and everything.”
Mr. Rainsy, who is presently wrapping up a fund-raising trip to Europe, Canada and the U.S., did not respond to a request for comment on Mr. Hun Sen’s challenge.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said he could not comment on whether Mr. Rainsy would participate in the proposed oath-taking ritual, but said that the opposition’s position was still that the results of the July 2013 national election were skewed.
“There were a lot of irregularities, that is why we needed electoral reform, and now we are in the process of doing that electoral reform,” Mr. Sovann said. “We have to focus on what the future holds, and now we are doing electoral reform, we want the election in the future to be better.”
The CPP won 68 seats to the CNRP’s 55 at the 2013 election in a surprise performance that almost doubled the opposition’s representation in the National Assembly, but led to almost a year of protests alleging election fraud.
Mr. Rainsy and his deputy, Kem Sokha, led a boycott of the CNRP’s seats in parliament and carried out increasingly large street protests for almost six months before a brutal three days of repression carried out by the CPP government.
Six months later, Mr. Rainsy and Mr. Hun Sen signed a deal to enter the National Assembly in exchange for wholesale reform of the previously CPP-dominated National Election Committee.
The two parties have since mostly avoided confrontation and have recently promoted what they call a “culture of dialogue,” which they say is an effective way of working together while avoiding the insults and violence of years past.
Asked Monday whether he thought Mr. Hun Sen’s morbid challenge to Mr. Rainsy breached the culture of dialogue, Mr. Sovann said it should be left to the people to decide.
“The culture of dialogue is the culture of dialogue and we still support the culture of dialogue,” Mr. Sovann said.
“Any speech made by any person, we let the people judge. [Mr. Hun Sen] has the right to speak in the National Assembly, and I don’t want to judge on behalf of the people.”