Opposition Deputy President Mu Sochua left the country today after allegedly being notified by a senior official that her arrest was imminent.
Her departure came a day after Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened action against “rebels” and “foreign slaves” during a speech in Siem Reap province.
Sochua left from Phnom Penh this morning after she had been notified by a senior government official that she would potentially be arrested next week, she said, adding there was a clear link to the premier’s speech on Monday and a series of provincial speeches she had given in the last seven days.
In his speech on Monday, Hun Sen referred to “senior officials” who had made “rude comments” in speeches in Kampong Thom, Siem Reap and Preah Vihear – provinces Sochua had visited in the last week to meet with party officials.
“I have confirmation from a senior government official that the arrest would happen next week. I cannot say who or from which ministry,” she said, shortly before departing the country.
“He [Hun Sen] has made clear references to three speeches made in the provinces by me and my two colleagues,” she said.
Nearly half of the opposition’s sitting lawmakers are currently overseas, with some leaving following the arrest of party President Kem Sokha on widely decried charges of “treason”. Also out of the country are Sokha’s daughters, Kem Monovithya - also a party official - and Kem Samathida, along with youth leader Hing Soksan.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak today would not explicitly confirm that Sochua was targeted for arrest, but did obliquely acknowledge her involvement in the Sokha probe.
“Mu Sochua has used the party and has involved herself in this [case],” Sopheak said. “We have seen her go [to the provinces] for a few days, so this is like this because of her. If she had not done this, she would not be involved.”
He added that the possibility of arresting other CNRP lawmakers would depend on the court’s investigation into Sokha’s “treason” charges.