PHNOM PENH —
The deputy leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, Kem Sokha, has returned to the party headquarters following a brief excursion to register at a polling station for local elections scheduled for next year.
Sokha has remained in the building for more than four months, since an attempt to arrest him was made amid high-profile court proceedings that many believe to be politically motivated. He was given a five-month prison sentence in September for failing to appear in court for questioning in the case.
Kem Sokha, vice president of opposition CNRP leaves after he registered his name for the upcoming election in Phnom Penh’s Mean Chey on Wednesday, October 05, 2016. ( Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)
On Wednesday, Sokha made the short drive to the voter registry office near the party’s headquarters, before returning and giving a speech to supporters.
“I have stayed here for more than four months to advocate for a political solution to return things to normal...to have free and fair elections. I believe that from today, we have hope it will be heading back to normal and reaching a political solution,” he said.
The trip to the registry office came after Prime Minister Hun Sen declared a “ceasefire” in the dispute between his ruling Cambodian People’s Party and Sokha’s Cambodia National Rescue Party.
Kem Sokha, vice president of opposition CNRP shows his voter registration slip in a voter registration office in Phnom Penh’s Mean Chey on Wednesday, October 05, 2016. ( Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)
Yem Ponharith, a CNRP spokesman, told reporters the party planned to meet to decide whether to attend a National Assembly session on Friday.
Meas Ny, a political analyst, said allowing Sokha to register to vote was a sign that the tensions may continue to be eased in the coming weeks.
“I think it’s an improvement of the political situation, giving the green light, for hope… We will need to wait and see what happens in the next few days.”