Cambodia National Rescue Party Looks For European Help

Cambodia National Rescue Party Looks for European Help Jailed Cambodian opposition senator Hong Sok Hour is taken from court to Prey Sar prison, June 17, 2016.
RFA/Brach Chev

Cambodia’s opposition party wants the European Union’s help in resolving the political crisis that is gripping the nation as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government continues to apply pressure to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, senior CNRP officials told RFA’s Khmer Service.

While the European Union's ambassador to Cambodia, George Edgar, visited CNRP acting president Kem Sokha at the party’s headquarters on Friday, CNRP officials declined to tell RFA what they talked about.

CNRP lawmaker Pol Ham told RFA the ambassador met with Kem Sokha for a simple talk, but he didn’t provide details.

“I have observed that the European Union wants to help resolve the crisis,” he said. “That is why they visited us. We all know about the EU’s stand, but we don’t know yet how will they resolve this.”

The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) told RFA that Cambodia doesn’t have any political crisis, repeating the government’s contention that the CNRP is having trouble because its members broke the law.

“It is the ambassador’s right to visit anyone,” he said.

Hun Sen’s government and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) have been backing a push in Cambodia’s courts to bring CNRP leader Kem Sokha in for questioning regarding his alleged affair with a young hairdresser.

The case has seen the arrest of four employees of the human rights group ADHOC and a member of the National Election Commission (NEC), while an arrest warrant was also issued for a U.N. worker. Heavily armed police also attempted to arrest Kem Sokha at CNRP headquarters for failing to appear in court in a pair of cases related to the alleged affair.

Petition problems persist

Meanwhile, CNRP activists in Pursat province say they are being persecuted and threatened when they attempt to collect villagers’ thumbprints for petitions seeking King Norodom Sihamoni’s intervention in the situation.

Thumbprints serve as signatures in Cambodia.

CNRP Provincial Director Yann Seng Huot said the 19 activists were summoned to local police headquarters where authorities pressured them to stop collecting thumbprints for the petitions.

“Our activists didn’t cause any security issues or disturb social order. We are collecting thumbprints from villagers voluntarily,” he said. “Authorities shouldn’t discriminate against us.”

Provincial Deputy Police Chief Penn Tung said his officers didn’t threaten any activists or confiscate any thumbprinted documents. He told RFA that the activists have the right to collect thumbprints, but that he had summoned them to the police station because villagers complained about the petition drive.

“Villagers said activists claimed they collected villager’s thumbprints to demand the government fight inflation, but their thumbprints were being used for a different purpose,” he said.

Also on Friday, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court questioned jailed opposition senator Hong Sok Hour in his case as the investigating judge wanted to find out if there are more suspects and more evidence in that case.

Hong Sok Hour was arrested in 2015 for criticizing on Facebook the treaty demarking the border between Cambodia and Vietnam.

Reported by Vuthy Tha and Sopheak Chin for RFA's Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.

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