Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has boasted of barging uninvited into a video conference call hosted by his political opponents.
Hun Sen on Friday said he had intruded into the Zoom call to warn his opponents that he and his spies were keeping a close eye on them.
The call was held on Thursday last week by former members of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, which a court dissolved in 2017.
Cambodia’s courts are widely seen as doing the bidding of Hun Sen’s government, in this case eliminating the sole credible opposition party ahead of the 2018 election. The party had been expected to present a strong challenge to Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party, which instead swept the parliamentary polls.
Clips of part of Hun Sen’s sudden intrusion on the video call have been circulating on social media.
They show Hun Sen holding a 12-minute conversation with Long Ry, a former opposition lawmaker.
In their chat, Hun Sen complained that members of the former opposition party insulted him personally, even though he said he had tried to promote a “culture of dialogue.”
Sok Eysan, a spokesman for the ruling party, initially denied that the intrusion and exchange had taken place, saying the video clip was a fabrication.
However, during a live television broadcast on Friday opening a COVID-19 vaccination campaign for children, Hun Sen acknowledged the exchange and said that he had listened in on about 20 previous calls of his opponents without revealing his presence.
He also wrote about his exploit on Facebook, saying that he had not been reaching out to negotiate, but to warn them against disruptive activities.
US government-funded Radio Free Asia quoted Long Ry as saying that Hun Sen was able to join the Zoom meeting because one of his team members shared the meeting link or password with others so they could listen.
He said he would be happy to invite Hun Sen to future meetings to discuss national issues.
“But morally, when people sneak a peak into our affairs, we are not happy,” it quoted Long Ry as saying. “In politics, I think we should employ honest and straightforward methods, and not take advantages of others by secretly sneaking into their affairs.”
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