Interior co-Minister Sar Kheng, a CPP moderate who was trying to broker a peaceful resolution to the opposition protests, said Wednesday he supports the government’s ultimate decision to crack down.
“No one wants to bring the country into a dictatorship or communist regime, but Sam Rainsy expressing democracy had gone beyond the limit of democracy,” Sar Kheng said. “Democracy Square had become Anarchic Square.”
Meanwhile, Yeng Marady, deputy director of the National Police, indicated Wednesday that the crackdown must continue until demonstrators are completely dispersed. But he said the government is trying to exert force gradually to avoid large-scale violence.
Clashes like the ones in the first two days are almost inevitable, added Yeng Marady—a Funcinpec appointee. “However, our police are trying very much to avoid big problems of violence,” he said.
Defense co-Minister Tea Banh said Tuesday the crackdown is the police’s responsibility and soldiers would not be involved.
Until this week, Sar Kheng had advocated government restraint despite characterizing the demonstration as technically illegal.
He said Wednesday that he still supports democratic principles but the two-week opposition sit-in by the National Assembly “was built with anarchic camps not seen in democracies.”
“If we look at other countries, they don’t protest by building complex camps in front of their National Assembly.”
On Tuesday, Prum Sokha, director-general of administration of the Ministry of Interior, came out of a morning meeting with opposition leaders saying that the protest could continue. But just hours later, the police cracked down.
Analysts say that Prum Sokha either did not know about the crackdown or might have intentionally spread misinformation to keep the element of surprise.
“I have no comment,” said Prum Sokha, asked his version.