Cambodia’s jailing of Kem Sokha will ensure Hun Sen’s son gets ‘smooth transfer’ of power

Harsh length of Kem Sokha’s 27-year jail term sends ‘clear, intimidating message’ to opposition ahead of elections in summer. Hun Manet, the oldest of Hun Sen’s children, has been groomed to succeed him.

Cambodia is set to lock up a prominent opposition leader for the rest of his life, but Prime Minister Hun Sen could get away with the “cavalier attitude towards democracy” given Asean is unlikely to interfere and Western powers are distracted by the war in Ukraine, analysts have said.

Kem Sokha, 69, was last week sentenced by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to 27 years in jail for treason, following a three-year trial in which a judge had deemed his election campaigning and civil society work were aimed at sparking a “colour revolution”.

The former president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) would also be indefinitely banned from politics and voting in elections. Nor would he be allowed to meet anyone apart from relatives while under house arrest.

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