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Gov’t to Take ‘Terrorist’ Opposition Group to Court

FILE PHOTO - Cambodia's opposition leader Sam Rainsy, center, of the Cambodia National Rescue Party waves along with his party Vice President Kem Sokha, third from left, during a march in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sunday, March 30, 2014.

The CNRM was formed in January after the government took Sam Rainsy’s former party, CNRP, to court over an alleged plot to overthrow Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The Ministry of Interior has filed a complaint with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court against the now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Movement, a group formed by the country’s former opposition leader, Sam Rainsy.

The CNRM was formed in January after the government took Rainsy’s former party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, to court over an alleged plot to overthrow Prime Minister Hun Sen, resulting in the party’s dissolution and the banning of many of its members from politics for five years.

Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the government’s complaint was made against five senior members of the CNRM who were living abroad for “illegal political activities”.

The government has not named the five CNRM members included in the complaint.

“You must wait for the court summons. And we will wait for a further action to get more evidence.”

Ky Tech, a government lawyer, and Ly Sovanana, a court spokesman, declined to comment.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party has overseen a crackdown on political dissent in recent months that has seen the CNRP dissolved and its president, Kem Sokha, arrested on treason charges.

In November, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the CPP to dissolve the CNRP and banned 118 of its officials from politics for five years. Most of the CNRP’s 55 MPs had already fled the country.

The former CNRP president created the CNRM in January to lobby for the release of Sokha, his successor to the party’s presidency.

Mu Sochua, CNRP vice president and a founder of the CNRM, said the CNRM would continue to operate regardless of the government’s attempts to shut it down.

“The dictator always fears the shadow of the CNRP, revealing what patriots are doing to save the nation is right,” she said. “We have no reason to stop our movement if we don’t get any solutions.”

However, Sokha and other members of the CNRP have publicly distanced themselves from the group.

Leading members of the ruling party have called the CNRM a terrorist group.

Sok Sam Oeun, a veteran human rights lawyer, said as there was no law that said the CNRM’s activities were illegal, their actions could not be punished in the courts.

Lao Mong Hay, an independent political analyst, said the lawsuit was part of a “communist approach” to governance.

“Filing this lawsuit is pure legal harassment by the [Interior Minsitry] to cause problems for the senior CNRP officials and make it difficult for them to ever return home in the future,” he said.