LI leadership demands release of Kem Sokha as Cambodia teeters on the verge of authoritarian rule

The Liberal International leadership has warned of the perilous position democracy in Cambodia now faces, following the arrest of Kem Sokha – the president of Cambodia’s pro-democracy opposition, Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP – LI full member).

On Sunday 3rd September, Mr Kem was arrested on trumped-up charges of treason prompting rapid protests from the LI leadership and the wider international community. The arrest comes after the CNRP saw great electoral success at the commune level in June, amid a crackdown on independent media in Cambodia in September, and ahead of a general election in 2018 that has the potential for the CNRP to end the 30-year rule of prime minister Hun Sen.

Astrid Thors, a vice-president on the LI bureau said: “LI demands immediate and resolute action by the international community with regards to the aggravating conditions in Cambodia.

“The signatory countries of the Paris Peace Accords have a particular responsibility to engage in reversing the dangerous slide of Cambodia towards outright authoritarianism. The EU must initiate steps for the immediate suspension of budgetary support for the regime given that the mutually agreed rules have been breached by the authorities in Phnom Penh.

 

Hans van Baalen MEP, LI President of Honour and the Alliance for Liberals and Democrats in Europe Party (ALDE Party) President called the arrest of the CNRP leader “unacceptable” and labelled charges brought against him as “absurd”.

In a written question to the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, Mr Van Baalen raised serious concerns that the actions of the Cambodian government will “contribute to further deterioration of the political climate for opposition forces in Cambodia in the run up to the 2018 elections”

Van Baalen asked,“which actions the HRVP [Ms Mogherini] will undertake to have Kem Sokha released and is the HRVP prepared to consider the suspension of EU financial support for Cambodia”.

Mr Sokha joins an unenviable list of liberal democrats in South East Asia – including Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia and Senator Leila de Lima in the Philippines – who have been imprisoned on highly contentious charges ahead of, or shortly after, a seismic national election.

Liberals rally in support of Cambodian opposition amid fears of further crackdowns
15/11/2017
From Liberal International headquarters in London the deputy leader of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP – LI full member), Mu Sochua MP addressed her 183,000 followers on Facebook on Wednesday 15 October, ahead of the highly controversial decision orchestrated by Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, to outlaw the liberal opposition.
Cambodia
LI Bureau releases second statement on the political situation in Catalonia
15/11/2017
The bureau of Liberal International has issued a statement on the political situation in Catalonia in the aftermath of the 1st October referendum.
Catalonia
Johannesburg Declaration is liberals’ blueprint for better governance
09/11/2017
Liberal International member parties took bold steps to endorse a programme for better governance in the twenty-first century as LI’s 199th Executive Committee meeting convened in Johannesburg, South Africa between 27-29 October.