Senior Funcinpec officials have blamed the CPP for engineering a rumor campaign that claims former royalist military officials are recruiting troops in a bid to cut out an “autonomous zone” in northwestern Cambodia.
Well-know former royalist military commanders Nhiek Bun Chhay and Serei Kosal returned to Phnom Penh earlier this week after rumors of a royalists succession bid spread to the northwest where they were based for the election.
New life was breathed into the succession rumors in a front-page news story on Friday in the leading Khmer-language newspaper Koh Santepheap (Island of Peace).
The story, titled “Rumor Says Nhiek Bun Chhay is Recruiting an Army,” and leaflets distributed in several provinces earlier this week claiming that former royalist generals were poised to take to the jungle are CPP-sponsored intimidation, the Funcinpec officials said.
“Recently some leaflets accused me of disseminating [information] to recruit a new army and set up an autonomous zone. But, actually, Funcinpec does not have any force or any guns,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said on Friday.
“Nobody besides the CPP is behind this [rumor],” he said. “I have done nothing wrong that can be used as a pretext to arrest me.”
Nhiek Bun Chhay said the rumor of a reconstituted royalist army will have little currency except as a means “to cheat the illiterate people who do not know the real situation.”
Serey Kosal, an adviser to Prince Norodom Ranariddh, said on Friday the rumors were aimed at intimidating royalist supporters amid the current stalemate in recognizing the election results and forming a new government.
“This is a political game for intimidation against me and others,” Serey Kosal said. “Many people in Phnom Penh have seen the leaflets. Now Koh Santepheap writes like this…. I think it is [CPP] intimidation.”
A senior CPP Interior Ministry official said on Friday that police have discovered no substance to the rumors.
“We have not yet found proof,” he said.
Though Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party continue to deny the legitimacy of the general election, pro-CPP organizations continued on Friday to distribute letters of support for Hun Sen and demands that other parties do not “make trouble” over the result.
On Friday the Council of Ministers disseminated a parade of 11 statements from organizations with names like the Federated Union of the Cambodian Food Industry and the Association of Cambodian Intellectuals Against Famine and for Development, supporting Hun Sen and the election results. The organizations appear to be among the 76 pro-CPP groups that were cleared by the National Election Committee to monitor the poll under the “Eye of Justice” umbrella body.
“The Eye of Justice” was formed after a July 4 meeting between 118 “organizations” and Prime Minister Hun Sen at his residence in Takhmau town, said Chea Chamroeun, who heads two pro-Hun Sen organizations that claim to focus on human rights and development issues.
Hun Sen did not instruct the organizations on how to conduct themselves during the election, he said. (Additional reporting by Kay Kimsong)
“Hun Sen did not advise anything for the observers to do…. Hun Sen did not tell any organization to follow his plan,” Chea Chamroeun said. (Additional reporting by Kay Kimsong)
from the Federated Union of the Cambodian Food Industry; the Youth Association for Buddhist Development; the Buddhism Federation; the Khmer Development Organization; the Caring Organization for Cambodian Elderly and Orphans; the Khmer Development Human Resource Organization; the Solidarity Federation; the Association of Cambodian Intellectuals Against Famine and for Development; the Development Organization for Family Relief and Assistance; the Khmer Federation of Construction Workers, Water and Forest Union; Khmer Farmers Association for Development.