Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy has launched another attack on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government in an interview with French newspaper Le Monde.
In the interview, the former Cambodia National Rescue Party president said Cambodia was moving towards outright dictatorship.
“Because Hun Sen is aware that Cambodian people hate him more and more he decided to commit more brutal acts on Cambodians who dare to uncover his absolute power and corruption,” Rainsy said.
The comments follow the arrest last week of the CNRP’s current leader, Kem Sokha, who has been hit with espionage charges that are widely seen as politically motivated.
Sok Eysan, ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman, dismissed Rainsy’s comments and said the arrest of Sokha and crackdown on dissent in the media and civil society were aimed at “strengthening democracy and the rule of law”.
He said Cambodia was banking on the western powers taking no meaningful action against Cambodia as they were “paying attention to other major issues”.
“Cambodia’s issue is a tiny matter and it will not lead to economic sanctions.”
The major western powers, including the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia, have all publicly condemned Cambodia’s actions.
According to Freshnews, a pro-regime website, Hun Sen has said he will continue to rule Cambodia for another decade to prevent opponents from committing “treason”.