08/02/2016, 13.19
CAMBODIA
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Cambodia, Kem Ley killing sparks confrontation between government and opposition

The prime minister is accused by the public of having ordered the killing of the well-known political analyst. A source for AsiaNews says that the fact "shows the decline of his popularity." In response, the government has denounced political opponents for defamation, accusing them of wanting to "create social chaos".

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews) - The clash between the cambodian government and the opposition has intensified after the killing of Kem Ley, well-known political scientist shot dead on July 10 in Phnom Penh. The public and members of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of having ordered the assassination. In response, the government has denounced political opponents for defamation, accusing them of wanting to "create social chaos".

Kem Ley, 46, was shot dead at a service station. Shortly after the murder, police arrested Oeut Ang, a former soldier. He confessed to having shot the political analyst because of an outstanding debt of $ 3 thousand. However, the public do not seem to believe this story and rumors of government involvement in the killing have began to circulate.

An AsiaNews source, anonymous for security reasons, said that "what happened to Kem Ley shows that the situation of the prime minister is becoming difficult. Hun Sen no longer has the pulse of the situation. " The fact that he has been accused by many people, continues the source, "is proof that his popularity has declined a lot compared to the past."

Kem Ley, the source said, "was very popular among the Cambodians, he spoke simply and clearly. He was understood by the people. He was one who had no uncertain terms, an impartial observer, he was very critical of the governmen, and of the opposition. He never took sides”. His funeral was attended by two million people. He is considered a hero of his country and his tomb is a pilgrimage destination.

Yesterday the Prime Minister Hun Sen - who has governed the country for 30 years with the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) - sued the opposition leader Sam Rainsy and an opposition senator, Thak Lany, for accusing him of having ordered the assassination.

Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), described the killing of Kem Ley "an act of state terrorism." The opposition leader - in exile since November 2015 - wrote on Facebook: "I believe there is the government behind the criminals who shot Kem Ley, as it was behind the 1997 attack that killed at least 16 people and at the same organized the murder of Chea Vichea [union ed] in 2004 and Chut Wutty [activist for the environment ed] in 2012 ". According to the prime minister's lawyers, the post could "irritate the population and cause social chaos."

The senator Lany is accused of having said that the prime minister killed Kem Ley during a public meeting held in Ratanakkiri province. In a video published by a pro-government newspaper, you hear the woman say that Hun Sen "shot" the political analyst. Thak Lany has denied the allegations claiming that the audio track was dubbed onto the video.

In any event it is the third legal attack on Sam Rainsy in a few weeks . In June, the government convicted three activists of the CNRP to seven years in prison, while the vice-president of the CNRP, Kem Sokha, is embroiled in a sex scandal.

The large number of votes won by the opposition in the last election is putting pressure on Prime Minister Hun Sen. The source concludes, "he has had to change political strategy and now uses social networks, especially Facebook, to change his public image and regain consensus. He now portrays himself as being very close to the people and shows his more human side. This never happened before”.

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