World Bulletin / News Desk
Kem Sokha, the deputy leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, went to ground at the party’s headquarters in May to avoid being arrested in connection with a summons over a sex scandal.
A recording of him talking to his mistress was leaked in February.
Although he has appeared a handful of times since then to deliver speeches from the party forecourt, Wednesday marked the first time Sokha has left the office compound.
The journey saw him make a speech, and then get into a car to be taken to the relevant constituency office. The only interruption to the process was outside the registration office itself, which was flooded after heavy rains and saw Sokha have to walk along a plank to get inside.
His ability to walk around as a free man -- just weeks after the compound was surrounded by troops from the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit -- was part of what party spokesman Yim Sovann attributed to a political ceasefire declared during the recent Pchum Ben religious holiday.
“There was no problem, no police presence and the process went smoothly,” Sovann told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
“Now he is registered and came back to the party headquarters."
Asked if Sokha intends to remain at party HQ given that he was able to move around freely, Sovann said party officials would continue to “assess the situation first,” and are still considering whether or not its MPs should attend the next session of parliament Friday.
Sovann said it was a “good sign” that police had let the registration proceed.
“I don’t know why, but both sides agreed a ceasefire and now we want to proceed with a solution,” he told Anadolu Agency.
Political analyst Ou Virak told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that the ruling party’s aim has always been “to intimidate and paralyze the opposition,” but he doesn’t think “they want to put either [self-exiled CNRP leader] Sam Rainsy or Kem Sokha in prison.”
“It would anger supporters even more, and even moderate Cambodian voters would be upset, because it would ratchet up tensions unnecessarily.”
The commune elections are slated for next year, with the national elections set to take place in 2018.