The vice president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, Kem Sokha, returned from a visit with activists in Prey Sar prison on Wednesday, saying they requested the party remain strong in political negotiations with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
The Rescue Party and the CPP have seen a deterioration in their relationship in recent weeks, with opposition lawmakers demanding the ruling party do something about alleged Vietnamese encroachment on the border.
Opposition activists have been detained on charges either stemming from demonstrations in 2014, or, in the case of a senator, on charges of publishing a false map of the border online. Eleven activists are facing up to 20 years in prison for allegedly inciting violent demonstrations outside Freedom Park in July 2014.
“They said their stance remains firm, meaning they asked the leaders of the CNRP not to be weak, but strong,” Kem Sokha said.
Kem Sokha’s visit comes at the behest of opposition supporters in Australia and New Zealand, where he recently traveled to bolster support for the party.
Sok Eysan, a spokesman for the CPP, said Rescue Party officials had not yet attempted to negotiate for the release of the activists, but he said such a request would not make a difference.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday warned that a war could result from the Rescue Party’s continued push over border maps and alleged encroachment. “If we keep this act going, war will break out,” he said. “I want to be clear: War will absolutely happen if other parties that are not the CPP hold power.”