Cambodia’s opposition leader Kem Sokha to launch appeal against treason charge amid calls for sanctions

Cambodia’s opposition leader Kem Sokha to launch appeal against treason charge amid calls for sanctions

Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha will launch his appeal against his ongoing detention today. Mr Sokha has been in jail

A banner of opposition leader and President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Kem Sokha is seen during a news conference in Phnom Penh

Photo: Reuters/Samrang Pring

Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha will launch his appeal against his ongoing detention today. Mr Sokha has been in jail since September 3, having been accused by strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen of conspiring with the US to overthrow his government.

Today’s hearing comes amid calls from former opposition leader Sam Rainsy for international sanctions to be placed on Phnom Penh. Specifically, the opposition has called for the freezing of overseas bank accounts and travel bans on PM Sen’s inner circle, as well as the axing of budgetary support to the government.

Up to 40% of Phnom Penh’s budget is funded by Western institutions, particularly the World Bank, and the economy relies heavily on trade with the West. However, China provides even more aid, including funding 70% of transport infrastructure. In return, Cambodia has frustrated ASEAN efforts for a united stand against China in the South China Sea.

If levied, economic sanctions are likely to hurt Cambodia’s people more than its leadership and targeted sanctions on the government would push Sen further into Beijing’s arms. Mr Sokha will have to fend for himself, it seems.

 

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