Cambodia’s parliament votes to prosecute opposition leader Kem Sokha on treason charges

Cambodia’s parliament voted on Monday to enable the prosecution of opposition leader Kem Sokha on treason charges which were criticised by Western nations and are disregarded by his party as crap.

Kem Sokha’s arrest on Sept. 3 marked an escalation in a crackdown on critics of Prime Minister Hun Sen before an election next year where he could confront the toughest electoral struggle of over three years in power.

Kem Sokha’s Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) boycotted the parliamentary vote, but it passed easily because Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has a majority. The vote was passed with 67 from 123 voting in favour. None opposed it.

The vote was especially on whether to prosecute Kem Sokha and it was unclear what it meant for the condition of the parliamentary immunity from prosecution he technically gets as an elected member of parliament.

The evidence presented against Kem Sokha so much is a movie recorded in 2013 where he discusses a strategy to acquire power with the support of unspecified Americans. His attorneys have dismissed the evidence as crap and said that he was just discussing election strategy.

National Assembly President Heng Samrin said the vote allowed the authorities “to proceed with the case of arresting, detaining and charging Kem Sokha.”

Parliamentarians in the opposition party said they would visit the prison in which Kem Sokha has been held to demand his release. Security was increased in the prison, several hours drive from the capital Phnom Penh near the boundary with Vietnam.

Hun Sen, a 65-year-old former Khmer Rouge commander, has ruled Cambodia for over 30 years and said last week he planned to remain in power for another decade.

Western nations and human rights groups have raised doubts as to whether next year’s election could be fair following the arrest of Kem Sokha and a crackdown on the opposition, activists and independent media. However, Hun Sen has support from his principal ally, China.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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