With the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) poised to form the next elected government, analysts have said that alleged political prisoners, including the former president of the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Kem Sokha, should be released as a goodwill gesture.
It would help reduce tension and international pressure, considering that over a dozen politicians and opposition activists are in jail.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said on Tuesday that the CPP should release alleged prisoners of conscience to show its magnanimity.
“If our re-elected government believes it has truly won as much popular support as it says, then it should be willing to publicly show its magnanimity by promptly releasing all political prisoners,” he said.
Hay cited the example of Venezuela, where a then re-elected president Nicolas Maduro released dozens of political prisoners.
Analyst Meas Ny said releasing political prisoners would help the re-elected government relieve pressure from the international community.
“I think in the next two or three weeks to a month, there will be new developments. I think the situation would return to normal,” he said.
Former opposition lawmaker Ou Chanrath claimed that the imprisonment of CNRP politicians and activists is politically motivated. He echoed the analysts’ views that the government would make concessions.
“I think it will consider the release of political prisoners and restore the rights of former CNRP politicians. It will show more goodwill gestures. But the situation may not return to normal,” he said.
However, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the analysts’ predictions would not happen.
“We are sad to see a tendency that encourages combining judicial power with the executives."
“The court will not serve the interests of foreign countries. The court only follows the law."
“We don’t care about [foreign] countries. Cambodia is Cambodia, and the government is born out of elections, not [other] countries. The judicial, executive and legislative branches serve the interests of the Cambodian people,” Siphan said.