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Cambodian Opposition Lawmaker Flees into Exile After Arrest Warning

  • VOA News

Parliament member Mu Sochua smiles before a press conference at her party headquarters, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013.

A leading Cambodian opposition lawmaker has fled the country after being warned that she faces arrest in connection with an alleged plot to overthrow the government.

Mu Sochua, the deputy president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, left Phnom Penh on Tuesday, one day after Prime Minister Hun Sen vowed to take action against others who may have taken part in the alleged plot.

CNRP leader Kem Sokha was taken from his home on Sept. 3 and charged with treason. The government said the charges were based on comments Kem Sokha made on a video dating back to 2013, in which he claims to have received help from the United States to build a pro-democracy movement in Cambodia.

Kem Monovithya, a high-ranking CNRP official, said on Twitter late Tuesday that Mu Sochua fled after receiving a warning from a senior government official. Nearly half of CNRP's lawmakers have fled Cambodia since Kem Sokha's arrest.

Sokha's arrest was carried out amid a massive crackdown against independent news outlets and human rights groups in Cambodia. The crackdown is an apparent attempt by autocratic Prime Minister Hun Sen to shut down dissenting voices ahead of next year's election with the aim of extending his three-decade-old grip on power.

Hun Sen's government was nearly toppled in the last national election in 2013, and support is growing for the opposition, especially among younger Cambodians.

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