Hun Manith, the second son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, has suggested that the large turnout at the CNRP’s eighth consecutive day of marches through Phnom Penh on Sunday was the result of paying protesters to show up.
An estimated 30,000 people gathered at Freedom Park on Sunday to demand that Mr. Hun Sen stand down from his position or call an election, with about 20,000 later taking to the streets in a march that lasted from 2:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.
Mr. Manith posted on his Facebook page on Sunday evening that the difference in the turnout when compared to the first seven days of the marches—which saw less than 10,000 people take to the streets each day—was suspicious.
“I found it funny when the CNRP announced that the demonstration from 15th-21st were volunteer… The result was 1500 to 2500 protesters that showed up on average,” Mr. Manith wrote.
“On 22nd December 2013, on the other hand, it is not volunteer anymore… The result 15000-20000 protestors… So what does it mean?” he asked.
“To me, the CNRP has to spend quite an amount of money to attract all those people from the country side… What do you think? 20000 riel each with a complement of a lunch,” he said.
Mr. Hun Sen’s ruling CPP habitually provides money and food to people who turn out to its own political rallies. The party came under heavy fire for doing so during July’s national election campaign.
Mr. Rainsy denied Monday that the CNRP had taken up the practice, saying the party could in fact not afford to do so.
“I can tell you had we done that, I would be ruined and the CNRP would be bankrupt,” he said. “How can I pay hundreds of thousands of people?”
“Many CPP officials, including Hun Sen’s sons, they are used to doing things [like this], and they translate it to understand our protests,” he added.
“We have different cultures. Our supporters come without expecting anything for themselves…in fact, many of them give us contributions.”