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PHNOM PENH – Prime Minister Hun Sen said he was satisfied to see the Candlelight Party releasing a statement condemning those who intentionally insulted King Norodom Sihamoni.
“I appreciate and thank the leaders of the Candlelight Party for [the] statement condemning those who insulted the King [following] my request yesterday, in Kampong Chhnang province,” the prime minister wrote on his Facebook page on Oct. 27.
The same day, in the morning, the Candlelight party issued a statement condemning “anyone who insulted the King” and denying any alleged links with the exiled-opposition leader Sam Rainsy.
On Oct. 26, Hun Sen warned that if the party was involved with Rainsy, legal action would be taken against it. He then asked party leaders to make a stand on the fact Rainsy had insulted King Sihamoni and its role on several occasions.
A few hours later, the party’s spokesperson, Thach Setha, told the press his party has never been involved or had any relationship with Sam Rainsy, who lives in exile in France, adding that an official statement would be released “soon.”
Today’s statement confirms Setha’s position, denying the “allegations about the relationship between the Candlelight Party and Sam Rainsy.” It also condemns “those who intentionally insulted the King and the constitutional monarchy.”
The party added it “respects the high role of the King as enshrined in the Constitution, the supreme law of Cambodia,” claiming that it “strictly adheres to the Constitution, the Law on Political Parties, and the laws in force of Cambodia, as well as the party's statute.”
“The Candlelight Party operates and makes decisions responsibly in its full sovereignty in accordance with party statutes, without the direct or indirect direction of any individual or political party,” the statement read.
Sek Socheat, a social observer and founder of the Mindset Development Organization (MDO), said the Candlelight party issuing a statement is a good thing to clear up any doubts about its alleged involvement with Sam Rainsy, the party's founder and exiled leader of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), which was dissolved in 2017.
The connection with Sam Rainsy might lead to the dissolution of the party, he said.
“Therefore, they must be careful about not having any evidence of them being communicating with Rainsy,” Socheat told Cambodianess on Oct. 27.
He added that he also did not support any affront to the dignity and reputation of King Sihamoni, applauding the party for showing a stance against any insult of the monarchy. The King is protected by the Constitution; thus, the political parties must do politics in accordance with the constitution.
“Politicians should end the culture of criticizing or insulting the King so that our society can have mutual respect and improve the rule of law in Cambodia,” Socheat said.
“Politicians should adhere to the basic principles of the Constitution in resolving the crisis in national politics, rather than blaming each other, being irresponsible or endless debate as a reason to compete for power. This culture is not good.”
Article 7 of the Constitution stated that the King of Cambodia shall reign but shall not govern. The King shall be the Head of State for life and shall be inviolable.
On Oct. 25, Minister of Justice Keut Rith ordered the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s prosecutor to take immediate and strict legal action against Sam Rainsy for a serious affront to the dignity and reputation of King Sihamoni.