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Ambassadors continue to visit Kem Sokha at his home

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Japanese Ambassador Masahiro Mikami shakes hands with Kem Sokha. KT/Siv Channa

Ambassadors yesterday continued to visit former opposition party leader Kem Sokha at his home in the capital after Phnom Penh Municipal Court eased his bail restrictions over the weekend.

Carmen Moreno, European Union ambassador to Cambodia, and Masahiro Mikami, the Japanese ambassador, visited Sokha at his residence in Tuol Kork district.

Both ambassadors declined to comment after their meetings, but Muth Chantha, chief of Sokha’s cabinet, said Ms Moreno discussed Sokha’s health and the Kingdom.

“She visited and they discussed moving Cambodia forward,” Mr Chantha said. “They exchanged views on what are the benefits of building the nation.”

“The EU ambassador said the EU is still Cambodia’s development partner,” he added.

When asked about the European Commission’s review of the Kingdom’s Everything-but-arms trade status, Mr Chantha said Ms Moreno’s stance echoed a statement issued by the EU on Monday.

“She showed a stance that is not different from the statement from the EU on Monday the 11th,” he said.

Maja Kocijančič, spokeswoman for the European Union’s Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in a statement on Monday said the EU expects Sokha to be fully released and his political rights reinstated.

Mr Chantha said the Japanese ambassador praised Sokha when the two met yesterday.

“The ambassador praised Kem Sokha who has been patient in trying to provide benefits for the nation,” he said.

EU Ambassador Carmen Moreno shakes hands with Kem Sokha. KT/Siv Channa

When asked if the Japanese ambassador will fight to have Sokha’s treason charges dropped, Mr Chantha said: “We are working together for the interest of the nation and its people”.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Sunday eased Sokha’s restrictions after spending more than two years investigating his treason case. It said the decision was made after considering Sokha’s health and good behaviour over the past two years.

Sokha remains under court supervision, though he can now leave the former confines of a four-block radius around his home and also hold meetings.

However, he remains banned from leaving the Kingdom, engaging in political activities and is obligated to appear when summoned by the authorities.

Sokha was arrested in September 2017 for allegedly colluding with the US to topple the government. He was charged with treason and the former opposition CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November 2017.

Ever since the court eased Sokha’s restrictions, ambassadors have been pouring in to speak with the 66-year-old former CNRP leader.

United States Ambassador Patrick Murphy and French Ambassador Eva Nguyen Binh met Sokha on Monday, while German Ambassador Christian Berger and Australian Ambassador Angela Corcoran met Sokha on Tuesday.

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, yesterday said the visits are a sign of political development in the Kingdom.

“I think there will be political intervention in Kem Sokha’s case after the court promptly finishes its investigation,” Mr Phea said. “It is a positive step for Cambodia’s politics.”

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