PHNOM PENH —
The former president of Cambodia’s opposition, Sam Rainsy, will likely be charged with treason in the coming days, a senior official has said.
Gen. Khieu Sopheak, an interior spokesman, said Rainsy would join the CNRP’s current leader, Kem Sokha, in facing charges of plotting to overthrow Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government in a “color revolution”.
While Sokha was jailed in September on the charges and is being held in a Tbong Khmum prison, Rainsy has been living in exile since he decided not to return to Cambodia in 2015 after years-old defamation sentence was revived while he was visiting supporters abroad.
The government produced a video which is said showed Rainsy admitting to the allegations.
In the video, he called on underpaid soldiers to “turn the weapons and overthrow this authoritarian government.”
Sopheak said the statement was clear evidence of illegality.
“As the prime minister said, he wants to catch the big fish, which means Sam Rainsy will be sentenced as well as Kem Sokha, for promoting color revolution and listening to foreign orders,” he added.
He said that the government would file lawsuits in the courts in both Cambodia and France against Rainsy.
Rainsy did not respond to phone calls requesting comment.
In response to the video posted by Rainsy, several military commanders came out publicly to say they were determined to protect the government against opponents.
So Chantha, a political scientist, said the ruling party was restricting freedom of political expression.
“The popularity of the opposition is due to the support for Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, which is a concern to the ruling party,” he said.
“Therefore, the intention to restrict the freedom and put pressure on the opposition party is to weaken or destroy the opposition.”