PHNOM PENH —
A senior opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party MP has said the party expects rising political tensions to subside ahead of next year’s general election.
Son Chhay, the party’s chief whip, said the party believed that international pressure on Phnom Penh would lead to an easing of tensions.
“The advocacy and struggle against the current situation from the international community and citizens are stronger than ever. So we believe that we will find a proper solution to lessen the tension in pursuance of a free and fair election,” he said during a speech at the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh.
Kem Sokha, CNRP president, was arrested last week in a pre-dawn raid and held on treason charges, accused of conspiring with a foreign power to overthrow the government.
Prior to Sokha’s arrest, more than 20 opposition lawmakers and activists were jailed on questionable charges that many believe to be politically motivated.
Its former president, Sam Rainsy, lives in exile in France after he was threatened with arrest over a years-old defamation charge.
Sok Eysan, a ruling party spokesman, denied that there were political tensions in Cambodia, adding that there was no “culture of dialogue” anymore between the opposition and ruling party.
“International organizations who are showing their concern regarding the political situation in Cambodia are considered as invading [Cambodia’s] internal affairs,” he added.
U.S. Ambassador William A. Heidt said during a round table meeting with Cambodian journalists on Tuesday that if Cambodia ignored international concern over its crackdown on dissent it would be a mistake.
So Chantha, a political scientist, said despite the narrowing space for a peaceful resolution of the tensions, “there is no better choice than negotiation.”