Prime Minister Hun Sen on Jan 5 reminded the public of the hardship suffered during Cambodia’s civil war, and urged political parties not to threaten the country’s stability as April’s commune election approaches.
The 12 parties registered for the election should adhere to the rules of democracy, and must not try and take power by force, he said at an inauguration ceremony in Kompong Cham province that was broadcast on Apsara Radio.
“[Parties] must not gain votes by using any methods against the Constitution, or lead a coup d’etat as happened in other countries. I warn that anyone who wants that, they will be arrested at home,” he said.
He then recalled how he was separated from his young son Hun Manet during the civil war, and that when they were reunited, Hun Manet did not recognize his own father.
“My life was terrible during war time, which is why I would like to call for all political parties together to keep the peace,” Hun Sen said.
He also said that political parties must not threaten voters in order to win their support.
But he added that politicians should take a lesson from corporate advertisers, and should promote their own merits while refraining from criticizing their competitors.
Hun Sen also vowed that unnamed former leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime who are living freely will be brought to trial.
Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said Hun Sen’s message to political parties not to threaten people may help deter the continued violence against opposition activists in the provinces.
SRP leader Sam Rainsy said he supported Hun Sen’s appeal for all political parties to behave in a democratic manner.
But he added that politicians have a duty to criticize other politicians.
“If you are cutting trees, if you are corrupt, political parties have a right to speak out and inform the public,” he said.