Government tries to dissolve opposition party after accusing its leader of treason

The main opposition party has been accused of conspiring with foreign forces. Last month, its leader Kem Sokha, was arrested. More than 20 of its lawmakers have fled the country. New elections are set for next year. Prime Minister Hun Sen wants to extend his 32 years in power.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Cambodian government lawyers filed a lawsuit on Friday  to demand the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the country’s main opposition party, after its leader, Kem Sokha, was charged with treason and arrested on 3 September.

In their lawsuit, the lawyers alleged that the opposition had conspired with foreigners to topple the government, citing a 2013 video clip that shows Kem Sokha talking about a plan to take power with the help of Americans.

The CNRP has rejected the allegations, accusing instead Prime Minister Hun Sen of trying to use the charges to extend his 32-year rule ahead of next year’s election.

Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander, is allied to China, and Beijing says it supports the Cambodian government’s efforts to maintain national security and stability.

Western nations have condemned Sokha's arrest and Washington has denied any interference in the country's politics.

More than 20 CNRP parliamentarians have fled abroad following a government campaign against dissidents and human rights groups.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party narrowly won the last election in 2013 after losing seats to the opposition in what was Hun Sen’s worst election result since Cambodia returned to full democracy in 1998.

The ruling party lost ground in local elections in June, after which, according to opposition members, Hun Sen stepped up a campaign against dissenting voices.