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Cambodia tense as High Court weighs barring opposition

Cambodia tense as High Court weighs barring opposition

Cambodia is tense as the nation waits for the Supreme Court to rule on Thursday on dissolving the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the only credible opposition party in the country.

The CPP claims the CNRP's government is fostering dissent with the help of foreign forces.

"I dare to bet my life" on the CNRP being outlawed, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Wednesday.

The judge handling the case is a member of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and is expected to outlaw the CNRP. The decision would bar 177 members of the opposition from politics for five years.

Sen has publicly encouraged CNRP lawmakers to defect to his party before the Supreme Court announces its decision.

A large perimeter surrounding the Supreme Court in the capital Phnom Penh has been sealed off by patrolling police and military.

A reporter in Phnom Penh, who asked to remain nameless for concerns of safety, told Al Jazeera he had never seen such a heavy police presence in the capital. The reporter said he had lived in Phnom Penh for roughly a decade.

The decision is the latest in a series of moves against the CNRP.

Kem Sokha, leader of the CNRP, was jailed in early September on charges of treason. Authorities allege Sokha colluded with the US government to topple the CPP.

The charge comes from a 2013 video during which Sokha allegedly says the US assisted in planning his political career. The charge carries a sentence of 15 to 30 years.

Former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy fled to France in 2016 after being charged with defamation for accusing the Sen Administration of planning the death of prominent political commentator and activist Kem Ley.

Rainsy was convicted of defamation that same year and the Supreme Court upheld the conviction earlier this month.

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