Since late May, Kem Sokha, vice president of Cambodia’s opposition party, has remained in the party headquarters to avoid arrest over charges that he procured a prostitute. The case is the latest in what the European Union has condemned as a campaign of “judicial harassment” against the opposition. In an email interview, Stuart White, the national news editor at the Phnom Penh Post, discusses Cambodia’s current crackdown on the opposition and the prospects for reform.
WPR: What is driving the current crackdown on Cambodia’s opposition, and what explains Prime Minister Hun Sen’s decision to end the truce represented by the “culture of dialogue”?
Stuart White: Some analysts have suggested that the situation currently facing the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) is just the latest iteration of the cycle of crackdowns and concessions that have been a hallmark of the ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) since the 1991 Paris Peace Accords. However, this latest crackdown does appear to be particularly wide-ranging, having also swept up NGO staffers, and even an election official.