Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy has accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of attempting to stage a constitutional coup to seize power as the upcoming national election approaches.
Mr Rainsy posted an eight-minute video to his Facebook page on Sunday saying the work of the ruling CPP is based on fake images, fake democracy, fake rule of law and fake development.
He argued that the political situation in Cambodia has been becoming more tense and depressing over the last few weeks, accusing the government of violating both the Paris Peace Agreement and the country’s constitution.
“What they did the last few weeks is nothing short of a coup, not a military coup, but a constitutional coup, because it has trampled on the constitution and suspended all rights as set out in the constitution,” he said.
He added that the country’s leaders want to seize life-long power and cover up the true history of Cambodia over the last 70 years.
“They do not want to step down in 2018, so they are using more dictatorial powers, such as killing intellectuals who love the nation, arresting people, closing both Khmer and foreign radio stations and newspapers who dare to speak the truth, and expelling international organisations that act peacefully in order to promote democracy in Cambodia,” he said.
In recent weeks, the government has threatened to shut down the Cambodia Daily newspaper over unpaid taxes, kicked the National Democratic Institute out of the country and shut down radio stations renting airtime to Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and Voice of Democracy.
However, government action on these institutions is widely seen as a political campaign to silence the voice of critics before the national election approaches.
Prominent political analyst Lao Mong Hay alleged that the government’s recent activities contravene what is set out in the constitution.
“The government is doing whatever they want, so it seems they are carrying out a constitutional coup, because the constitution limits the power of government,” he said.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the ruling party would not take action against NGOs and media outlets if it were afraid to lose the election.
He said the crackdown is a sign to show the strength of the ruling party and rule of law in Cambodia.
“In reality, the government is strengthening the constitutional implementation of the core Paris Peace Agreement. Everyone wants to follow the path of democracy and strengthening the rule of law in Cambodia,” he said.