Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ deputy commander Lieutenant General Hun Manet has said troops must prepare to defend the country’s legitimate government and protect the nation’s territory.
Speaking on Monday from a firearms training session at Kampong Speu province’s Mareah Prov military base, he said the army must be ready for any eventuality.
“If the army is slack, then war could break out like in Syria, Libya and other countries, so the army must be strong and clear and defend the legitimate government, so that Cambodia can remain peaceful,” he said.
He added that the army’s job is to be loyal to the entire nation, protecting stability for future generations. He said the presence of the armed forces was not to scare people, but to make them feel protected.
Lt Gen Manet accused some politicians of trying to pull the government down, but said that Khmers must protect one another to maintain peace and stability in the kingdom.
Powerful countries will not have the interests of Khmer people at heart, he added.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen has continued to increase the salaries of the army and his government’s policies are working, but one small thing is damaging that and needs to be solved,” he said.
Speaking at a military sporting event to commemorate Victory Day at the weekend, Lt Gen Manet told reporters the army would not allow any elements in the country to affect “stability and development” by breaking democratic principles.
Prominent political analyst Lao Mong Hay said the law does not allow the army to act independently of government orders.
“According to a sub-decree on army discipline, forces must be loyal to the nation, religion and king,” he said. “Soldiers must obey orders that violate national and international laws.”
In December, former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy posted on his Facebook page encouraging the armed forces to go against the government.
“To soldiers and policemen, please don’t obey orders from any dictator if they order you to shoot and kill innocent people,” he said.
RCAF later filed a legal complaint against Mr Rainsy, accusing him of treason for calling on the armed forces to disobey their orders and go against the legitimate government.
Lawyers for RCAF said Mr Rainsy insulted the leaders of the forces and undermined troop morale, which harmed the security of the state, an offence stipulated under the penal code.