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Government seeks to turn supporters of Rainsy-led coup

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
KT/Khem Sovannara

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday devised a strategy with his Council of Ministers to prevent a coup allegedly being planned by Sam Rainsy, noting that arrested coup supporters should have their confessions and statements going against Mr Rainsy aired publicly to deter others from joining the movement.

According to minutes of the Council of Minister’s meeting on Friday, Mr Hun Sen reiterated his call for local authorities to continue arresting opposition activists and officials who are linked to Mr Rainsy’s planned coup for his return to the Kingdom next month.

“Since Sam Rainsy has crossed a red line, I have ordered local authorities at all levels to go ahead and arrest anyone who dares to come out and voice favour of the opposition,” he said.

“The authority must just arrest them one by one should they come out and protest in support of Sam Rainsy who is trying to topple the government,” Mr Hun Sen added. “We already arrested pro-opposition activists in Kampong Thom province and in Phnom Penh.”

“We need to air their confessions of involvement with Rainsy’s campaign to threaten and deter others from also supporting Rainsy’s campaign of a coup against the government,” he noted.

According to the Justice Ministry, dozens of opposition activists and officials were either charged or arrested for allegedly being linked to the coup plot over the past few weeks.

The arrests came after Mr Rainsy last month announced his planned return, calling on people to mobilise and partake in his so-called “nine fingers” campaign, a movement which the government considers a coup attempt.

Following the meeting on Friday, Interior Minister Sar Kheng further revealed the government’s strategy while speaking at a public forum in Prey Veng province on Saturday.

Mr Kheng said opposition activists must oppose the planned arrival of Mr Rainsy to avoid arrest.

“There is no other choice. The only choice is to not join [the coup plot], as you now may see many of them have confessed and sought clemency,” he said.

“Sam Rainsy’s arrival aims at creating war. We are going to celebrate the National Independence Day [on November 9] and the Water Festival, but he plans to come and cause social insecurity on that day,” Mr Kheng added.

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at a Council of Ministers meeting on Friday. KT/Khem Sovannara

The strategy has already taken hold and proven effective, with former CNRP Phnom Srok district council member Tat Veasna, along with some of his former colleagues, yesterday turning themselves in to police and speaking out against Mr Rainsy through video clips.

“I’m here to confess that from now on, I will not take part in any movement or activity [against the government],” Mr Veasna said. “I want to make it clear that I am now just a normal citizen, although I used to serve the former opposition party.”

Justice Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap said several former opposition officials turned themselves in to police to deny links to Mr Rainsy’s coup plot, noting that Ros Kimsreang, a former CNRP Youth Movement Leader, expressed regret after police arrested him.

“According to evidence and confessions, Mr Kimsreang has revealed the tricks of Mr Rainsy and his accomplices in an attempt to topple the government,” he said. “Those who attended and agreed to Mr Rainsy in Malaysia are connected to the treason.”

Mr Kimsreang was arrested by Kampong Thom provincial authorities in early October, was freed on bail last Friday after confessing to recently meeting with Mr Rainsy in Malaysia, where he was ordered to gather youth to fight back against the authorities.

Mr Rainsy took to Facebook yesterday and claimed arrested opposition activists are political prisoners.

“Confessions obtained from political prisoners under Hun Sen’s regime are similar to confessions extracted from prisoners under the Pol Pot regime,” he said. “They all are fake confessions made under duress.”

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