Kem Sokhon Audio Clip Says CNRP Unable to Defend Country

An audio recording of Kem Sokhon—an opposition politician turned ruling CPP member, and brother of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) acting president Kem Sokha—is the latest clip put out by the government to try and discredit the opposition ahead of the July election.

In the clip emailed to local media outlets by the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, Mr. Sokhon can be heard delivering a scathing speech about his brother’s party to an audience at a pagoda in Kandal province’s Sa’ang district last week.

“I have never seen the opposition party contribute to the protection of the nation and the people. Have they? They have only destroyed,” Mr. Sokhon is recorded as saying.

“If there was no [Hun Sen], when there was a war with Thailand, could either Kem Sokha or Sam Rainsy command the military or the police? I believe not,” he said.

“If there is a war, who will take responsibility? Who will suffer? Who will be sad? Who will be miserable? Who will be separated? Your husband and your brothers will have to join the military to protect the country. But Samdech Hun Sen solves the country’s problems,” he said.

According to Ou Chanrith, a Human Rights Party (HRP) lawmaker from Kandal province, Mr. Sokhon left the HRP—his brother’s former party, which recently merged with the SRP—after failing to win a seat in Parliament in the 2008 election. He is now a government adviser and was recently promoted to dep­uty director of the national po­lice’s department of central security.

Mr. Sokhon’s speech is the most recent audio clip released by the Press and Quick Reaction Unit. Over the past two months, a series of at least three audio files were sent out to media outlets with recordings painting the op­position as divided.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said Sunday that the fact neither Mr. Rainsy nor Mr. Sokha have military experience does not mean that the CNRP will not be able to ensure national security.

“[U.S. President Barack] Obama also didn’t have military experience, but he commands military all over the world to fight against terrorists and other enemies. So we don’t need a prime minister with an experience in military. When we are in power, we will rely on professional military commanders to give advice and we will decide if that advice is appropriate or not,” he said.

Mr. Sovann said that there were numerous officials from the Min­istry of Defense who are confidential advisers to the CNRP and are secretly anxious for a change in the government.

“I think most of [the generals and soldiers] love the nation, they love their people, they want the military to be completely neutral. That is why Mr. Hun Sen involves his son [Major General Hun Manet, head of the Defense Ministry’s counterterrorism department] in an important position, because some people inside the military don’t support the CPP. They are waiting for the time to come and they will help to reform the military,” Mr. Sovann said.

(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)

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