Hun Sen administration accuses CNRP of planning coup
CAMBODIA’S government launched a legal bid to dissolve the biggest opposition party yesterday, claiming it was plotting a coup with US help.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the ministry had filed a motion with the Supreme Court asking for the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP — leaders pictured) to be dissolved on the grounds that it was involved in a plot to topple Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The ministry claimed to be acting following complaints by smaller parties, though the move is part of an intensifying clampdown on opposition which has included shutting newspapers and radio stations.
Khieu Sopheak said the government had received “21 pieces of concrete evidence to prove that the opposition party has intentionally sought to topple the government through a ‘colour revolution’.”
The “evidence” includes video of CNRP leader Kem Sokha at a seminar where he admitted receiving advice from US “pro-democracy” groups.
The CNRP denies seeking to unlawfully or violently overthrow the government.
Kem Sokha was charged with treason last month.
Following the arrest, Hun Sen, who has ruled for three decades, warned in a speech: “If this party continues to protect and defend this traitor, it means this party is also involved in treasonous acts and there is no need to allow this party to exist in our democratic society.”
A message posted on Kem Sokha’s Facebook page yesterday said: “No other power can overcome the power of the will of the people. May the Cambodian compatriots unite in demanding justice for all Cambodians.”
The English-language Cambodia Daily was closed down last month for its inability to pay a $6 million bill in back taxes it says were unaudited and politically motivated in a move condemned by the International Federation of Journalists.
Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), formerly the Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party, has governed since the 1979 overthrow of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot by the Vietnam-backed United Front for National Salvation.
He has served as prime minister since 1985.
The CNRP has 55 MPs in the 123-seat lower house of Parliament, to the CPP’s 68.
If the Supreme Court finds the CNRP guilty of violating the Political Party Law, not only would it be dissolved, but its leaders would be banned from involvement in politics for five years.