Phnom Penh [Combodia], Nov 10 (ANI): A Cambodian court on Sunday freed opposition leader Kem Sokha from house arrest but has banned top opposition figure from leaving the country or joining political activities.
Kem Sokha was arrested in 2017 and was accused of plotting to overthrow the government of strongman Hun Sen, who has ruled since 1985.
The court order stipulates that Kem Sokha, who was arrested in 2017 and accused of treason, remains under court supervision and forbids him from going abroad and conducting any political activities., reported Al Jazeera.
The 66-year-old is the co-founder of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which was dissolved in 2017, in a move decried by rights groups. Sokha was arrested in the same year for alleged "conspiracy with a foreign power" just before the communal election.
In September 2018, he was released from the prison but put under de facto house arrest with strict conditions, including being barred from speaking to opposition members and foreigners.
The release of opposition leader with condition comes after the European Union has threatened to remove the country of its Everything But Arms (EBA) over alleged Human Right breaches.
The general secretary of the CNRP overseas section, Saory Pon, has accused the government to have taken the step just to avoid the loss of the EU's EBA agreement, which allows Combodia to export tariff-free to the bloc. He also deemed the ruling "ridiculous" and asked the government to drop all the charges.
"I think that's the tactic that [Prime Minister] Hun Sen uses just to show the international community that he is willing to release the ... political tension in Cambodia. But if you look at the reality, it's just on bail. It does not allow our president Kem Sokha to exercise his political freedom, it does not allow him to go abroad," Al Jazeera quoted Saory Pon as saying.
"On behalf of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, I urge... the international community to increase pressure," he added.
However, the government has defended itself by saying the release of Kem was unrelated to the EBA. "It is a due process in Cambodia," said Council of Minister's spokesman Phay Siphan. "This action relates to the court." (ANI)