Prime Minister Hun Sen has rejected a request from the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party for the courts to drop charges against opposition officials.
Hun Sen, president of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said in a letter on Wednesday that the judiciary was independent and the executive could not intervene in ongoing cases.
He argued that an intervention from his office would be contrary to the rule of law, however, the cases against senior opposition officials including the CNRP’s deputy leader, Kem Sokha, are widely viewed as politically motivated.
Some 20 opposition officials and supporters have been charged with a range of offenses since mid-2015.
Sam Rainsy, CNRP president, went into self-imposed exile last year after he was sentenced to two years over a years-old defamation ruling.
Yim Sovann, CNRP spokesman, said the party would try to find an alternative route to ending the political deadlock, which has seen the opposition boycott parliament for several months.
“We are trying to avoid staging demonstrations,” he said. “Demonstrations are a last resort that we could choose. But we are still hopeful that there will be a diplomatic solution.”
Prior to the 2013 election, Rainsy was pardoned by King Norodom Sihamoni, with the approval of Hun Sen, paving the way for him to return to the country and take part in the polls.
Sok Eysan, ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman, said that the CNRP’s decision to continue a boycott of parliament was “the worst thing”.