The Cambodian government on Friday sued to dissolve the country’s main opposition party, intensifying a crackdown that has drawn widespread condemnation from Western governments.
The exodus, prompted by the surprise arrest of the party’s president Kem Sokha last month, has raised serious doubts about the party’s ability to contest next year’s election.
CYP president Pich Sros claimed the CNRP conspired with its leader and the United States to topple the government.
“Today, we filed a complaint to the Supreme Court to ask for the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP)”, Ky Tech, a lead lawyer for the Ministry of Interior, told reporters.
Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior filed a complaint to the Supreme Court on Friday requesting the dissolution of the country’s largest opposition party after its leader Kem Sokha was charged with “treason“. He could face up to 30 years in prison.
He added that the evidence included three video clips of CNRP president Kem Sokha allegedly committing conspiracy with a foreign power. Many have left the country for fear of further persecution.
“This is meant to destroy democracy in Cambodia”, Mao Monyvann said of the move to shut down the CNRP.
In August, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen promised garment factory workers they would receive free health-care from their employers, free access to public transport and a jump in the minimum wage to at least $168 per month at the start of next year.
“This is a strongman’s coup d’etat, with Hun Sen shamelessly transforming himself into a dictator for the whole world to see”, said Phil Robertson, deputy director for Asia with Human Rights Watch.
In nationwide local elections in June, Hun Sen’s CPP won most constituencies but received a weak majority of the popular vote, while the opposition party made gains.
“The worldwide community obligated itself to protect human rights and democracy in Cambodia when they signed the Paris Peace Accords, but now they are looking the other way as that dream dies”, Robertson told Reuters.
“The prime minister always adds it every year, this is appropriate to what we tried to achieve”, Pav Sina said, while adding that higher wages would not make Cambodia less competitive.
In other recent moves tightening the grip of his government, an independent English-language newspaper, The Cambodia Daily, was shut down after being accused of not paying a huge tax bill – an assessment it strongly disputed.