CPP Tells CNRP to ‘Be Careful’ In Comments on Recent Arrest

The ruling CPP on Wednesday warned the opposition not to say that the imprisonment of one of its more prominent officials this week is against the spirit of the July 22 political deal that ended almost a year of protests after last year’s disputed election.

Meach Sovannara, director of the CNRP’s information department, was arrested Tuesday morning and taken into custody to await trial on charges laid just days before the July 22 agreement.

A dozen other opposition officials were imprisoned on charges similar to those against Mr. Sovannara, which include counts of “insurrection,” but 11 were released as the CNRP capitulated to CPP demands to end its street protests against the election and take its National Assembly seats.

The parties said at the time that the deal would restore political freedoms and usher in a period of harmony after a year of protests and repression. The CNRP released a statement Wednesday saying that Mr. Sovannara’s imprisonment violated that spirit.

In response, the CPP released its own statement avowing a separation between itself and the actions of the police and courts, explaining that the arrest was carried out due only to the CNRP official’s alleged role in violence at a July 15 protest.

“On November 12, 2014, the CNRP released a statement making a baseless accusation that the CPP violated the spirit of [the] agreement made between the two parties on July 22, 2014, relating [to] the case in which authorities detained a CNRP official and some other people,” the CPP statement says.

The statement says the incarceration was carried out in accordance with legal procedures and “is not related to the implementation of [the] agreement between the CPP and CNRP.”

“The CPP hopes that the CNRP will be careful in making public statements in a correct manner and for the benefit of national situation,” it says. “The CPP affirms its will to fully implement the spirit of the agreement between the two parties for the durability, progress and harmony of our national society.”

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith, who has long acted as the CPP spokesman, said he could not elaborate on the statement.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that the CPP was being disingenuous in claiming it had nothing to do with Mr. Sovannara’s arrest.

“The courts in Cambodia are not independent. They are subservient to the powerful people and the ruling party, and they don’t do anything—especially political things—independently,” he said.

“There is no use to talk about the law…because the courts are the ones who judge the law and it is the courts that are used by the ruling party to muzzle the opposition.”

naren@cambodiadaily.com, willemyns@cambodiadaily.com

© 2014, All rights reserved.