Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday accused the Sam Rainsy Party of trying to curry favor with overseas Cambodians by raising the possibility of putting an end to the monarchy.
Speaking on the 38th anniversary of the overthrowing of then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk by Lon Nol, the prime minister claimed that the SRP was trying to secure the support of Cambodian republicans in Australia and elsewhere by saying that the fate of the monarchy was up to the people, thereby leaving it open to the possibility of being eliminated.
“To please the republicans, [the SRP said] the future of the monarchy is up to the voters,” Hun Sen said. “The Cambodian Constitution cannot be amended on the monarchy issue…. This is a clear message: The CPP supports the monarchy and the current King.”
Speaking at a bridge inauguration ceremony in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen claimed that former SRP lawmakers Ngor Sovann and Sok Pheng, as well as former SRP board member Lon Phon—all of whom have defected to the CPP—told him of this supposed SRP campaign tactic.
Contacted Tuesday, Lon Phon said he had no knowledge of the matter, adding that the premier had just happened to mention his name.
SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said that his party was unequivocal in its support of the monarchy, dismissing Hun Sen’s remarks as “propaganda” to “make himself look good.”
“The SRP has no right to eliminate the monarchy…. The SRP has supported the monarchy. The SRP has supported the Constitution,” he said.
Eng Chhay Eang said that the ultimate fate of the monarchy does rest with the Cambodian people as a whole but that the SRP has no designs to bring about its end.
Puthea Hang, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections in Cambodia, said he had never heard of the SRP ever taking an anti-monarchy stance.
“I don’t believe that the Sam Rainsy Party has the desire to destroy the monarchy. No parties want to do so,” he said.