Ministry Kicks Off Situation Room Investigation

The Interior Ministry called members of the Situation Room “lawbreakers” Wednesday and said authorities were investigating them, refuting claims by the group of NGOs that they had done nothing illegal by temporarily gathering to monitor the June 4 commune elections.

“Those people acted against the law,” ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said. Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered an investigation into the group on Wednesday for failing to register with the ministry, as required of associations and NGOs operating in Cambodia, and accused it of being a staging ground for a “color revolution.”

Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, takes questions about Sunday’s commune elections at a news conference in Phnom Penh earlier this month (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

General Sopheak refused to respond to comments by members of the group, who said it was a temporary forum rather than a fully fledged organization that required registration.

“Let authorities take action according to the law,” Gen. Sopheak said. Yoeurng Sotheara, the law and monitoring officer at the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, and Naly Pilorge, deputy director of advocacy for rights group Licadho, both said their organizations had not been contacted by the ministry as of Wednesday afternoon. 

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