Cambodia’s Opposition Chief Kem Sokha Begins Visits to Provinces Under Requirements of Bail

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Cambodia’s opposition leader Kem Sokha, who’s under judicial limitations against political actions involving a continuous trial on charges of treason, has quietly started tours of the nation, but his motives are uncertain.

Talking to RFA’s Khmer Service on Monday, Kem Sokha’s attorney, Meg Sopheary, stated the leader of the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) had traveled to Siem Reap state on Sunday, following recent excursions into the states of Tbong Khmum, Pursat, Kampot, Battambang, and Banteay Meanchey.

“Because he had been permitted by the court to [only] traveling inside Cambodia, he goes out sometimes for holiday,” she explained.

“It is normal for anybody –remaining within the home for this long time is dull.”

Based on photographs posted to his FB accounts, Kem Sokha was traveling and meeting local residents since at least early July.

The CNRP leader has been detained in September 2017 over an alleged plot to overthrow the authorities with the support of the U.S. government and the Supreme Court prohibited his celebration in November that year due to its assumed function in the plot.

The movement to dissolve the CNRP was a part of a larger crackdown from Prime Minister Hun Sen about the political opposition, NGOs, and the individual press that paved the way for his ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to triumph most 125 seats in parliament from the nation’s July 2018 general election.

Kem Sokha was released from pre-trial detention to house arrest in September 2018 and granted bail in November from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, the conditions of that enabled him to travel inside Cambodia but limited him from taking part in any political actions.

His trial started on Jan. 15 but was postponed while the nation grapples with the effect of the coronavirus epidemic.

Kem Sokha asserts his innocence and his attorneys have all along said that prosecutors insufficient proof to convict. His trial was dismissed as a sham by faith groups and Western governments, also in March, U.S. Ambassador Patrick Murphy issued a rare statement denouncing what he said were”fabricated conspiracy theories regarding the United States” introduced by the prosecution.

The current excursions come about a month later Hun Sen met with Kem Sokha following the latter delivered condolences over the passing of Hun Sen’s mother-in-law and attended her funeral. The topic of this 50-moment meeting was not made public.

Travel welcomed

Talking to RFA on Monday, analysts welcomed Kem Sokha’s choice to exercise his right to travel and meet the folks, even though he might have started doing this months ago.

“Although foreign diplomats have been seeing with him in his home, they do not come daily, therefore there’s not anything wrong with traveling outside to the states,” said political commentator Seng Sary.

“I believe he wishes to check the court’s position and its terms imposed on him.”

Political commentator Meas Ny stated it was unsure whether Kem Sokha’s journey was his own choice or”he had been advised to do so,” presumably by Hun Sen or somebody else at the ruling party.

“When he had been advised to do that, it’s probably some type of political trap,” he explained.

“Authentic democrats should think hard about which course they mean to walk since [the ruling party] will not enable the leaders of the CNRP [Kem Sokha and self-exiled, acting party chief Sam Rainsy] to merge.”

supplied by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Sok Ry Sum. Written in English from Joshua Lipes.


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