Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday told government officials to not underestimate CNRP supporters set on welcoming the return of their exiled leaders.
Mr Kheng made his comment during an address to officials in Preah Vihear province, noting supporters of the court-dissolved CNRP continued to gather to discuss plans to oppose the government and welcome their leaders.
“Even until now, their supporters are still gathering and covering their evil plan by hosting noodle eating parties in which we all must be aware of,” he said. “We must educate other citizens to not fall for their political propaganda and cause social disruptions.”
Senior CNRP officials were banned from politics for five years in a Supreme Court decision in November 2017. Mr Kheng said the party was dissolved, but some former members continue to disregard the decision.
“Some of them do activities overseas in order to garner support within the country, and call on an illegal movement to topple the government. We all know this, right?” he said.
Mr Kheng said CNRP supporters are attempting to stir anger among the public in order to cause social insecurity and political instability.
“We must not overlook their acitivities. On the other hand, do not consider it as a complex problem that we can’t handle,” he said. “We must maintain a clear stance to strengthen political stability by enforcing the law.”
Earlier this month, exiled former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy and seven others announced their plans to return home in order to participate in a non-violent political campaign to demand Kem Sokha’s freedom, restore democracy and reinstate the CNRP.
Mr Sokha, who is currently under court supervision, yesterday marked his 66th birthday by posting a message to his supporters on Facebook.
Mr Sokha noted in his message that he is still loyal to the nation and its people, regardless of the fact that he lost his freedom nearly two years ago.
“Nothing can halt my sentiment towards the nation,” Mr Sokha said. “As long as the sun rises, I still have hope of reuniting and serving the people.”
“Although there were intimidation and suffering, there has never been regret for me,” he added.
Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrith, who was appointed as spokesman for the committee in charge of the return of former CNRP leaders to the Kingdom, yesterday said CNRP supporters would welcome them without fear of oppression.
“We actually have chosen a date to head back home, but we cannot tell anyone right now,” Mr Chanrith said. “It will take place in 2019 – we all must prepare in advance.”
“We are backing it with a non-violent manner to secure the country’s access to the Everything-but-arms [status],” he added.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay yesterday said the government should not worry about former opposition party rhetoric, and instead focus on developing the country.
“Just do good for the people and the country,” Mr Mong Hay said. “This should be the only [concern] of the country’s leaders.”
“A better response would be no response, no reaction,” he added.