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Ruling Party Ramps Up Pressure With Opposition Leader Summons


Kem Sokha talks to CNRP activists and supporters in Por Senchey district, west of Phnom Penh, on March 6, 2016. (Aun Chhengpor/VOA Khmer)

Kem Sokha talks to CNRP activists and supporters in Por Senchey district, west of Phnom Penh, on March 6, 2016. (Aun Chhengpor/VOA Khmer)

Kem Sokha is due to attend the court on May 11 over a separate defamation case filed by former CNRP activist Thy Sovanntha.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday issued three separate summonses for deputy president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party Kem Sokha and two lawmakers related to salacious phone records allegedly showing that Sokha engaged in an affair, a court spokesman said on Tuesday.

A court spokesman said on Tuesday that summonses were issued to Sokha and two opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmakers, Tob Vann Chan and Pin Ratana.

They are expected to attend court on May 11 and 16.

Sokha is due to attend the court on May 11 over a separate defamation case filed by former CNRP activist Thy Sovanntha.

In March, a series of leaked of phone records, which were purportedly between Kem Sokha and a woman named Khom Chandaraty, appeared to suggest they had an affair.

Chandaraty later testified to the anti-terrorism police department, denying that she had had an affair with Sokha. However, she changed her testimony after the release of the phone records and further questioning.

On April 22, she wrote an open letter accusing four local rights workers of attempting to bribe her to provide false testimony and demanding $300,000 in compensation.

Days later the authorities took action, arresting a local opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party official, and on Sunday proceeded to detain the rights workers and an election official, who were charged on Monday.

A United Nations worker was also charged in absentia.

Sokha could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. He has yet to comment on the cases.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann declined to comment on the case as it was a “personal issue”.

Sunday’s arrests brings the total number of jailed opposition members and supporters to at least 16.

Kem Ley, a politician and analyst, compared the current tensions to 1997, when the ruling Cambodian People’s Party appied pressure to the royalist Funcinpec party.

“The more they [the opposition] are mistreated, the more sympathy they will get,” he said. “They could easily win a majority in the next election, but at this rate will need a lot of replacements.”

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