Cambodia dissolves opposition party

PHNOM PENH • The Supreme Court in Cambodia dissolved the country's main opposition party yesterday, leaving Prime Minister Hun Sen clear to extend his rule of over three decades in a general election next year.

The government had asked the court to dissolve the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which had been accused of plotting to take power with help from the United States after the arrest of party leader Kem Sokha on Sept 3.

The court ruling also ordered a five-year political ban on 118 members of the opposition party.

The party had posed a major election challenge to Mr Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander who is the world's longest-serving prime minister.

In a televised address yesterday, Mr Hun Sen told Cambodians that the general election would go ahead "as normal" and called on CNRP members who had not been banned to defect to his party.

The CNRP rejected the accusations against it as politically motivated. It did not send lawyers for the court ruling.

"It shows that Hun Sen will never stop if no one is stopping him," said Ms Kem Monovithya, the daughter of Mr Kem Sokha and also a party official.

"The verdict is expected. It's time for sanctions from the international community."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2017, with the headline 'Cambodia dissolves opposition party'. Print Edition | Subscribe