The Ministry of Defence is requesting legal action be taken against individuals photographed erecting a CNRP sign in Preah Vihear province while wearing military uniforms over the weekend.
Ministry spokesman Chum Socheat maintained yesterday that the men in question were not soldiers, but had masqueraded as such to boost the profile of the opposition party and tarnish the military’s reputation.
“We have the Law on the Military, which says not to wear a military uniform when doing such things,” Socheat said. “We have filed a complaint . . . They are CNRP activists. They wore military uniforms to scapegoat [RCAF] Division 3. I cannot say whether they have been arrested already; let’s see on Monday.”
There were numerous reports of uniformed soldiers and police campaigning for the ruling party during the 2013 elections, though little action was taken at the time, and Socheat yesterday did not explain how the Law on the Military applied to civilians.
However, provincial CNRP working group chief Soun Puth insisted yesterday that the men were not party activists, nor were they intentionally impersonating soldiers. “They were just old clothes they got from their relatives,” Puth said. “We just asked them for help putting up the sign . . . we hadn’t realised they were wearing military fatigues.”
Provincial police chief Shi Kiree confirmed that the men had gotten the uniforms from relatives. The men had been doing farm work, and had momentarily put down their tools to help put up the sign.
“We already confiscated their army uniforms, and they confessed to us that they are not soldiers, so we released them and sent them home.”