Sar Kheng Commends Armed Forces for Peaceful Election

Interior Minister Sar Kheng has commended the country’s security forces for creating a safe environment during the July 28 election and the post-election period leading up to the convening of the National Assembly last week, according to a letter received Tuesday.

In his “letter of appreciation,” Mr. Kheng—who is also the chairman of the permanent command for election security—said the armed forces had successfully maintained “a secure environment, safety and public order for the smooth conduct of the fifth legislature election.”

“[N]ational and international public opinions have evaluated that it was fair, free, safe, nonviolent and with no intimidation,” Mr. Kheng wrote, adding that the armed forces had ensured “the successful first sitting of the National Assembly.”

But since the July 28 election, opposition supporters have turned out in Phnom Penh in the tens of thousands to protest for an independent investigation into the election—a call that has been echoed by the U.N. and U.S. State Department.

Mr. Kheng’s letter, which was dated Thursday, failed to mention the September 15 clash between stone-throwing youths and police and military police near Monivong Bridge that left a bystander dead and several others with gunshot wounds.

The letter also skips over the September 22 violent attack at Wat Phnom by a mob of men in civilian clothes and armed with weapons, and backed up by police and military police, on peaceful protesters, journalists and human rights monitors.

Interior Ministry officials and Daun Penh district authorities have denied official collusion with the mob, which used batons, electric stun guns and marbles fired from slingshots to attack the female protesters, journalists and rights monitors.

Brigadier General Kheng Tito, spokesman for the military police, said Mr. Kheng’s praise was well-deserved as the armed forces had “good self-discipline, respect for the law and good morality.”

“The case of the man dying [near Monivong Bridge] was just a result from a clash. This was not intentionally done by the authorities,” Brig. Gen. Tito speculated, adding that he did not know anything about the investigation into the killing.

He then declined to comment on why police and military police looked on during the Wat Phnom mob attack.

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