TEA BANH warns of crackdown on poll protestors

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Tea Banh. KT/Chor Sokunthea

National Defence Minister General Tea Banh has warned he will break the teeth of anyone who protests against the results of the forthcoming elections.
 
Speaking at an inauguration ceremony for new provincial administration buildings in Siem Reap, Gen Banh said political parties and their supporters were known to protest when they were unable to accept election defeat.
 
Gen Banh said: “These people always come out of nowhere claiming this and that. We won’t allow it any more. I’ll break their teeth and won’t tolerate any nonsense, because we’ve been wasting too much time on them.”  
 
He added that people should not be allowed to chant or display slogans such as “Change! Change!” or “Hun Sen please step down” because the government had been elected legitimately.
 
Prime Minister Hun Sen had struggled to lead the country away from the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime and build national unity, he added.
 
“Attempts to cause instability from whichever side will not be allowed any more. There will be no excuses,” Gen Banh said.
 
Opposition CNRP vice-president Mu Sochua said the Defence Minister’s comments were a threat timed to coincide with the upcoming commune elections.
 
She said his words violated the purpose of the military, which must protect the nation and not crack down on protesters.
 
“I urge the Defence Minister to consider if his comments will stand should the CPP lose votes, as in the 2013 election,” Ms Sochua said.
 
“Voters should not be threatened. All parties should be allowed to motivate voters to go to the polls in free and fair elections, without intimidation.”
 
Social commentator Meas Ny said the government would have to decide if it wished to crack down on protesters.
 
But he said the Defence Minister should not have raised the issue, since the Interior Ministry would be responsible for any intervention on demonstrators.
 
The military’s role was to intervene in the case of armed conflict, not to crack down on peaceful protesters.
 
Mr Ny added that the threat would not do the CPP any favours.
 
“These verbal threats might have been effective if they were used in our first, second and third elections, because at that time the public was afraid,” he said. “But this kind of thing is no longer effective. The more the government uses such words, the more loss it causes them, because people are educated and knowledgeable.”
 
Defence Ministry spokesman General Chhum Socheat clarified Gen Banh’s comment and said it was not a threat to any party.
 
It just was reminder to extremist groups who had rejected previous election results.
 
“Extremists who fail to recognise the results of elections cause a negative impact on the public and national security,”  he said.

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