Phnom Penh ( Associated Press) — A prominent Cambodian opposition politician who publicly complained about rigging local elections in June has been charged with defamation, his lawyer said on Thursday.
Son Chay, vice-president of the opposition Sam Rainsy party, said in an online interview after the vote that the National Election Commission was biased in favor of the ruling People’s Party. He also said that vote buying and intimidation of voters was being done. His allegations were rejected by the government.
The Commission and Popular Party sued Son Chhaya for defamation. Lawyer Chong Chow Ngi said the Phnom Penh Municipal Court officially charged Son Chai on Tuesday.
Son Chay, who holds dual Cambodian and Australian citizenship, left the country before the lawsuit was filed.
The Election Commission had demanded a public apology from Son Chhaya and the ruling party had sought a compensation of $1 million.
The lawyer said that the court has not fixed any date for the trial. Court officials could not be reached for comment.
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s party won the June election with 74.3% of the vote, and Sam Rainsy received 22.3% of the vote. The Popular Party has been in power for decades and has the huge advantage of controlling almost all levels of government.
An authoritarian ruler in a nominally democratic country, Hun Sen has been dominant for 37 years. He has said he plans to remain in office until 2028 and has promoted one of his sons as his successor.
In recent years, a Sen government has taken legal action against its opponents, hindering their ability to function independently, sometimes imprisoning them or forcing them into exile. .
In 2017, the Cambodian National Rescue Party, the largest opposition party, was dissolved by the Supreme Court on charges of treason, widely seen as a political decision to ensure the People’s Party victory in the 2018 election. went.