Kem Sokha, the jailed opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party president, has called on Cambodians to oppose attempts to move the country away from pluralist democracy.
In a letter dated October 23, Sokha, who was jailed in September on treason charges lodged by the government, called on Cambodians to “protect the Paris Peace Accords’ purpose and especially the constitution,” referring to the agreement that officially ended Cambodia’s long-running civil war in 1991.
Following Sokha’s arrest, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has moved to dissolve the opposition and redistribute its seats to minor parties in a campaign analysts see as a move to one-party rule.
While Sokha used the letter to call for a renewal of the Paris Peace Accords that officially ended Cambodia’s long-running civil war in 1991, Prime Minister Hun Sen has said the agreement is void.
At a bridge opening ceremony on Monday, Hun Sen said Cambodia’s 1993 constitution superseded the 1991 agreement, claiming that his government’s actions were constitutional.
He said; “The Paris Peace Accords were already mixed into the Cambodian constitution. So calling the signatory countries to meet up is outdated and cannot be done unless Cambodia re-creates four parties [that existed at the time]. Not there is only one Cambodia, the government is here.”
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said in a statement on Monday that the Paris accord signatories “should act now, and stop Hun Sen from making his destruction of democracy and disregard for human rights the new normal in Cambodia.”
On the same day, 55 NGOs asked the U.N. Secretary-General to summon treaty signatories.