Cut ties with Cambodian gov't, says exiled opposition leader

Hun Sen is 'dictator of Cambodia' after Supreme Court bans opposition party

The CNRP rejected the accusations against it as politically motivated.

Since Cambodia's court system is not seen as independent of Prime Minister Hun Sen's government, dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party is assured when the Supreme Court makes its ruling on Thursday, said party whip Son Chhay.

Few people on the streets wanted to talk about the ruling, the latest chapter in decades of manoeuvring that have kept Hun Sen and his ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) in power across all levels in the country of 16 million.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that the former leader of the CNRP reasoned that since the party would be dissolved with or without his membership, it didn't much matter if he returned.

"The worldwide community must not do business as usual with Hun Sen following his very undemocratic and shocking move to dissolve the only opposition party", Rainsy said in an interview.

From the viewpoint of the CNRP, the pressure being put on Hun Sen so far by Western countries that Cambodia used to depend on for aid has been mild and ineffectual, with the current United States administration of President Donald Trump paying scant attention to the country.

Sam Rainsy, who led the party during that vote, went into exile in 2016 and faces a jail term for a criminal defamation conviction if he returns.

His longtime deputy, party cofounder Kem Sokha, took over the party's leadership earlier this year, only to be thrown into a detention centre in September on treason charges.

Hun Sen is 'dictator of Cambodia' after Supreme Court bans opposition party

He resigned as party leader in February after CPP lawmakers moved to amend the Law on Political Parties to dissolve any political party led by someone convicted of a crime.

"It shows that Hun Sen will never stop if no one is stopping him", said Ms Kem Monovithya, the daughter of Mr Kem Sokha and also a party official.

Political observer Lao Mong Hay said Hun Sen has been trying to "incapacitate CNRP by decapitating it, and destroy it if it can still remain a redoubtable rival in the forthcoming election". She and her sister also fled, fearing arrest after the government accused them of conspiring with the Central Intelligence Agency.

The country's top court outlaws the main opposition party CNRP for fostering dissent with the help of foreign countries.

Opposition leader Kem Sokha is now being held in a jail close to the Vietnam border on charges of treason, while former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy has been living in exile in Paris since 2015 after escaping a jail term for alleged defamation.

Sen publicly encouraged CNRP legislators to defect to his party before the Supreme Court announced its decision. US-linked groups like Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and the National Democratic Institute have also been forced to disband or leave the country.

"If it is not dissolved, you can come to take the money from me", he said.

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