In a New Year’s message read out by his daughter in a Facebook video, the leader of Cambodia’s dissolved National Rescue Party (CNRP) called for free and fair elections in the Southeast Asian Nation.
“Leave an opportunity for people to choose leadership representatives through an election that is free and fair,” Kem Sokha said in the letter, read out by his daughter.
Kem Sokha said 2017 had been marked by big political crises that led to a “democracy walked backward”.
As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the leader of the dissolved CNRP 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 in September on the basis of videos from several years ago showing him at a seminar where he spoke about receiving advice from US pro-democracy groups.
In an interview with the Reuters news agency, a spokesman from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), Sok Eysan, said there was little interest in Kem Sokha’s New Year’s message and that opposition politicians were free to create a new party.
Elections in Cambodia are slated for July 2018. Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to extend his reign by at least another decade.