PHNOM PENH (AFP) ― Cambodia’s opposition leaders have been summoned to court on suspicion of inciting civil unrest, their party said, after the government of strongman premier Hun Sen moved to suppress growing street protests.
Hun Sen faces an increasing challenge to his nearly three-decade rule from striking garment workers as well as opposition supporters demanding that he step down and call a new election because of alleged vote fraud.
Police have indefinitely banned further rallies, including one which had been planned for Sunday, after several demonstrators were shot dead on Friday.
Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy and his deputy Kem Sokha have been summoned to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Jan. 14 for questioning “in the case of incitement to commit criminal offences or serious social unrest,” according to warrants posted on the opposition website late Saturday.
Rainsy told reporters they were ready to defend themselves at the hearing.
“We have done nothing wrong. On the contrary, it will be an opportunity for us to help expose the truth,” he said.
The opposition party has boycotted parliament since the July election, alleging that Hun Sen was returned to power because of widespread vote-rigging.
The 61-year-old prime minister has ruled for 28 years and vowed to continue until he is 74.
He has faced mounting criticism over his rights record as well as accusations of excessive force against demonstrators.