Phnom Penh, 'betrayal and espionage': opposition leader Kem Sokha arrested

Next legislative elections in July 2018. In the June municipal elections, the opposition gained ground. Both Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders (Cnrp) are now out of the game. The premier: "There is always the same hand behind this, that of America."

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Cambodian court has charged Kem Sokha's opposition leader of "betrayal and espionage" in a presumed plot.

The Phnom Penh court states that the defendant pursued "a secret plan and a conspired with foreigners", announcing that the offense is punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Kem Sokha, 64, leads the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (Cnrp). Sam Rainsy, the other leader of the movement, was exiled to France following a warrant issued in 2010, for which he was sentenced in absentia.

The authorities arrested Kem Sokha last August 3, when Prime Minister Hun Sen denounced a "secret conspiracy". "Behind Kem Sokha, there is always the same hand, that of America," he said, speaking of a plot to "destroy the country."

According to analysts, Hun Sen, in government since the fall of the Khmer Rouge, is determined to resist and prolong his thirty-year government by eliminating all opposition in any way possible. The surprise arrest of Kem Sokha increases the political tensions in Cambodia even more. The July 2018 legislative elections are an important test for the government, engaged in a clamp down on opposition and human rights activists. In the June municipal elections, Cnrp made a major leap forward in polls.