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.

LI ExCom registration open: Liberals to convene in DA-run Johannesburg to exchange better governance models
13/09/2017
Twelve months after the Democratic Alliance (DA) won some of South Africa’s most important cities in nationwide local elections, Liberal International is proud to announce that the global federation of liberal and democratic political parties will convene its 199th Executive Committee meeting in DA-governed Johannesburg – the largest city in South Africa and one of the wealthiest cities on the continent. The ExCom will be held in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) between 27-29th October 2017.
Governance
Russian liberals emerge as second largest party in Moscow after regional election
12/09/2017
Challenging the party of Russian President Vladimir Putin a liberal coalition, of which YABLOKO (LI full member) is a part, has become the second largest party in the capital, Moscow, after regional elections throughout the country last weekend.
Elections
VP Diallo addresses thousands at RDR congress in Côte d’Ivoire
11/09/2017
“This leadership [of Alassane Dramane Ouattara] is recognized beyond the borders of our continent”, Liberal International vice-president Cellou Dalein Diallo (UFDG – LI full member, Guinea) said, as he addressed crowds of 10,000 people assembled for the third congress of Rassemblement des Républicains (RDR – LI full member, Côte d'Ivoire) last weekend.
Bureau