Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha calls for charges to be dropped

Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha calls for charges to be dropped

Cambodia has freed a prominent opposition figure from house arrest more than two years after he was charged with treason, after attempts by his colleagues to return to the country were thwarted.

But Hun Sen, an authoritarian leader in power since 1985, vowed not to allow Rainsy to return, saying he would be arrested on sight, and has sought support from regional neighbours to thwart the opposition's plans.

Kem Sokha is still barred from engaging in political activity, but his newfound freedom raises his profile as an alternative leader to Sam Rainsy.

A co-founder of the court-disbanded Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Rainsy had vowed to re-enter Cambodia on Saturday - nearly four years after fleeing overseas to evade arrest in a case widely seen as politically motivated.

Cambodia is only one of a amount of manufacturing nations with whom the EU has an "All the things But Arms" - or EBA - plan granting preferential accessibility to the European marketplace for merchandise and options apart from weapons.

Sam Rainsy's party had mounted an unexpectedly strong challenge to Hun Sen's party in the 2013 general election. But if you look at the reality, it's just on bail.

While Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy are political partners, they're also rivals.

Cambodia's government also appears to have reversed its hard line on Sam Rainsy entering the country. "This action relates to the court".

Kem Sokha was accused of plotting with foreigners to oust Hun Sen - a charge he dismissed as nonsense.

Other top party members fled into exile after the 2017 crackdown on all opposition to Hun Sen, which included the party's dissolution, the shuttering of virtually all critical media and the arrest of the party's other co-founder, Kem Sokha.

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His opposition party has been outlawed giving the government full control of the Cambodian parliament.

Cambodia's opposition leader Sam Rainsy was aboard a plane to Asia, a senior party official said Friday, a day after he was blocked from taking a flight to Thailand, from where he hopes to return to his home country from exile to lead protests against the three-decade rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

"On behalf of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, I urge... the global community to increase pressure", he said. He says the charges were politically motivated.

The CRNP, which was forcibly dissolved in 2017, and worldwide human rights groups had been calling on the government to release Kem Sokha, a co-founder of the party, or send him to trial.

In a post on Facebook following his release, Kem Sokha expressed disappointment with the investigating judge's rejection of a request from his lawyers to drop the charges against him.

A spokesperson for Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson, said the move was "too little, too late".

Malaysians ejected a corruption-plagued government that had ruled the country for over six decades in a historic election previous year, and voted in a more reform-minded alliance.

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights board member and former Philippines MP Teddy Baguilat called the court ruling misleading and an attempt to ward off sanction.

Prior to the Supreme Court-ordered dissolution in November 2017, it was the sole opposition party in the National Assembly, with 55 seats compared with 68 held by Hun Sen's CPP. We are on the right track, ' Rainsy said on arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in a message to supporters. Neighboring Thailand's premier has indicated he will not let Rainsy transit through the kingdom and observers believe he will first need to secure a deal with Hun Sen.

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