Cam­bo­dia op­po­si­tion MPs brace for dis­so­lu­tion

Manila Times - - WORLD - AFP

PH­NOM PENH: Dozens of their fel the prime min­is­ter has warned they face “hell”, but a hand­ful of Cam­bo­dian op­po­si­tion politi­cians rul­ing al­most cer­tain to dis­solve their party for good.

Among the hold­outs is Lim Kimya, 65, who con­tin­ues to show up to work for the painstak­ing task of de­bat­ing the gov­ern­ment’s 2018 bud­get.

But his rou­tine be­lies the per­ilous state of his Cam­bo­dia Na­tional Res­cue Party (CNRP), which strong­man pre­mier Hun Sen has promised will be dis­banded by the Supreme Court on Thurs­day.

Hun Sen, who has dom­i­nated Cam­bo­dia for more than three decades, has tight­ened his grip on the coun­try af­ter re­cent CNRP elec­toral gains shook his au­thor­ity.

The court rul­ing could carry a Kimya and more than 100 other CNRP politi­cians and staff—a fa­tal blow to a pop­u­lar move­ment that has cam­paigned tire­lessly to break Hun Sen’s 32-year hold on power.

With dual French-Cam­bo­dian cit­i­zen­ship, Lim Kimya could have eas­ily joined the three dozen MPs who have fled abroad af­ter the party’s pres­i­dent was de­tained on trea­son charges in Septem­ber. Yet Lim Kimya re­fuses to quit. “I will never give up pol­i­tics,” he told Agence France-Presse from the CNRP’s head­quar­ters in Ph­nom Penh, where just 20 other MPs and a skele­tal staff re­main.

Most MPs are keep­ing a low a coun­try with a grim his­tory of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence.

When Lim Kimya and other MPs protested out­side the re­mote bor­der prison where their leader Kem Sokha has been held since his ar­rest, guards told them: “We’ll break your head,” the MP re­counted.

Death knell for democ­racy?

last month by the gov­ern­ment, has been blasted by rights groups as - nate his ri­vals ahead of 2018 polls.

The case ac­cuses the party of con­spir­ing with for­eign forces to stage a revo­lu­tion.

Like many Cam­bo­di­ans, Lim Kimya doesn’t have any il­lu­sions about how judges will rule in a - ence seeps through all lay­ers of gov­ern­ment. Last week the pre­mier bluntly told CNRP politi­cians to de­fect to his party, an of­fer only one MP has taken.

“We give you a lad­der... If you do not climb on it, you will go to hell,” Hun Sen told a crowd in the cap­i­tal.

While past moves to tighten con­trol have been al­ter­nated with spells of rel­a­tive free­dom— a tac­tic that kept western aid taps CNRP shows no sign of abat­ing.

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