Cambodian opposition official arrested, detained

Move threatens to derail progress made since deal was struck between ruling party and opposition to end political deadlock

Cambodian opposition official arrested, detained

World Bulletin/News Desk

An official from the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was arrested and detained ahead of trial Tuesday - a move that threatens to derail political progress in the country since last year’s disputed election.

Meach Sovannara, who also heads the online Khmer Post Radio station, was picked up by police as he was being driven along one of the city’s main boulevards, CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann told the Anadolu Agency by telephone Tuesday.

“He was arrested this morning related to the accusation on 15th of July,” said Sovann, in reference to a CNRP-led protest beside the city’s Freedom Park, which was blocked off for months to keep protests at bay.

During the demonstration, a clash broke out and several security guards were injured, leading to the arrests of seven opposition lawmakers and officials. They were only released after a deal was struck between the ruling party and CNRP to end political deadlock after last year’s disputed election.

A video of Sovannara's arrest shows a police officer reading out a court-ordered warrant and, after trying to plead with the officers, the official -- who was a candidate in last year’s national election, but not voted in as a lawmaker -- is then led from his car into another waiting vehicle.

On Tuesday afternoon, rights group Licadho posted a notice on Facebook which said that the municipal court had ordered Sovannara to be detained at Prey Sar prison’s Correctional Centre 1 on the outskirts of the capital, Phnom Penh.

“Investigating Judge Keo Mony has charged Sovannara under articles: 28 and 218 (instigating aggravated, intentional violence); 495 (inciting others to commit a felony); and 459 (leading an insurrectional movement) of the criminal code. Article 459 carries a potential sentence of 30 years' imprisonment.”

Sovann had not heard about this update when contacted by telephone, but said the arrest had the potential to derail progress the opposing parties have made in coming to work together over the past few months.

“I think that this is a threat against CNRP supporters. It’s very similar to the arrests before and I believe that the solution will be similar. The president of the CNRP [Sam Rainsy] will talk to the top leaders of the CPP to try and solve this problem and I believe a solution will come out,” he said.

CNRP lawmakers ended a boycott of the National Assembly after the deal that was struck included provisions for electoral reform to be carried out.

They say last year’s election, which further cemented the rule of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen and his CPP, was riddled with errors.

 

Last Mod: 11 Kasım 2014, 15:03
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