Cambodian opposition lawmaker flees after arrest warning

FILE - In this Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, file photo, Lawmaker from the National Rescue Party Mu Sochua smiles from her car window during a visit to the royal palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Mu Sochua has fled the country after being warned by government officials that she faced arrest for links with the party president’s alleged plot to overthrow the government, a senior party official said. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, July 6, 2017, file photo, Mu Sochua, lawmaker from the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), prays during a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the violent government coup in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Mu Sochua has fled the country after being warned by government officials that she faced arrest for links with the party president’s alleged plot to overthrow the government, a senior party official said. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith, File)
In this Sept. 1, 2017 photo, an opposition lawmaker of Cambodia National Rescue Party Mu Sochua gestures during an interview, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Mu Sochua has fled the country after being warned by government officials that she faced arrest for links with the party president's alleged plot to overthrow the government. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
In this Sept. 12, 2017 photo, opposition lawmakers of Cambodia National Rescue Party Mu Sochua, right, talks with Son Chhay, left, during press conference, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Mu Sochua, the prominent Cambodian opposition lawmaker, has fled the country after being warned by government officials that she faced arrest for links with the party president's alleged plot to overthrow the government. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
In this Sept. 1, 2017 photo, an opposition lawmaker of Cambodia National Rescue Party Mu Sochua looks on during an interview, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Mu Sochua has fled the country after being warned by government officials that she faced arrest for links with the party president's alleged plot to overthrow the government. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A prominent opposition lawmaker in Cambodia has fled the country, saying Wednesday that Prime Minister Hun Sen made direct threats against her and her colleagues and that she no longer felt safe in her own country.

Mu Sochua, who serves as deputy president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, left Cambodia on Tuesday, a day after Hun Sen warned of strong action against any other politicians who may have been involved in opposition leader Kem Sokha's alleged plot to overthrow the government. Kem Monovithya, the party's deputy chief for public affairs, said on Twitter late Tuesday that Mu Sochua had received a warning from a senior Interior Ministry official that she would be arrested.

Opposition party president Kem Sokha was charged with treason for allegedly conspiring with the United States to topple the Cambodian government, and could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted. He was arrested on Sept. 3 on the basis of videos from several years ago showing him at a seminar where he spoke about receiving advice from U.S. pro-democracy groups.

His arrest in the middle of the night came amid a crackdown on the media.

Almost half of the 55 opposition lawmakers have fled Cambodia since Kem Sokha's arrest, fearing for their own security and to avoid being arrested themselves. Mu Sochua's whereabouts were not immediately known.

"The situation is very serious and has direct impact on 2018 elections," Mu Sochua said Wednesday in a text message to The Associated Press. "I no longer feel safe inside the country. My voice needs to be heard inside and outside. Leaving Cambodia is not a choice, but surviving imminent arrest is necessary."

Kem Sokha had been expected to lead his Cambodia National Rescue Party in next year's election in a strong challenge against the Cambodian People's Party of Hun Sen, who has held power for three decades. The opposition party has denied the treason allegation, saying the charge is strictly politically motivated.

In a speech in Siem Reap province on Monday, Hun Sen said treasonous acts within the opposition involved other opposition party officials in addition to Kem Sokha. He said he would search for those who may have been involved.

Cambodia's appeals court last week rejected a request for the release on bail of Kem Sokha. On Tuesday, Kem Sokha released a statement denying the accusations, saying he has always sought "change through nonviolent elections" in his role as opposition party president.

"It's not surprising that Mu Sochua is fleeing these threats by newly minted dictator Hun Sen because no one doubts he can order instant violence by the military and police, and controls all the levers in Cambodia's kangaroo courts," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of New York-based Human Rights Watch.

You may also interested in

Cambodia retaliates for visa ban, suspends US MIA...

Sep 15, 2017

Prime Minister Hun Sen says he's retaliating against a U.S. visa ban on some Cambodian officials by...

Cambodia court denies bail for opposition leader

Sep 26, 2017

A court in Cambodia has rejected a request for the release on bail of opposition leader Kem Sokha,...

Cambodia deports Chinese accused of operating...

Oct 12, 2017

Cambodia deported dozens of Chinese citizens accused of extorting money from women in their...

Court ruling expected to dissolve main Cambodian...

Nov 16, 2017

Cambodia's opposition braced for a court ruling due expected to see the party dissolved in the...

US to help Cambodia preserve Khmer Rouge victims'...

Dec 11, 2017

The U.S government has provided more than $55,000 to Cambodia for the preserving of personal items...

People also read these

Cambodian medic who spread HIV asks for court's...

Aug 17, 2017

Unlicensed Cambodian medical practitioner, sentenced to 25 years in prison for infecting more than...

Court ruling expected to dissolve main Cambodian...

Nov 16, 2017

Cambodia's opposition braced for a court ruling due expected to see the party dissolved in the...

China to invest billions of dollars in ally...

Jan 11, 2018

Cambodia and China have signed nearly 20 agreements worth several billion dollars to develop the...

Kerry defends trade pact on last trip as top US...

Jan 14, 2017

Secretary of State John Kerry, making his last trip as the top U.S. diplomat, has defended the...

Vietnam premier urges more investment from Japan

Jan 17, 2017

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Tuesday urged Japan to invest more in the Southeast...

Sign up now!

About Us

VNReporter is built to serve the people of Vietnam exclusive reports that best reflect the happenings and achievements in the country. With the rise in the popularity in online news, readers now demand to read quality news in a more modern and easy to read format.

Contact us: sales@vnreporter.com

Subscribe Now!