September 3, 2017 / 7:57 AM / a year ago

Cambodian releases alleged opposition leader plot video

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia’s government on Sunday released a video which it said showed arrested opposition leader Kem Sokha talking about conspiring against the administration with U.S. support.

Kem Sokha was arrested on Sunday and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government said he was accused of treason for plotting with foreign powers.

The government released the video on its Facebook page and said it had been recorded in Australia by the private Cambodia Broadcasting Network. It did not say when.

It appeared to show Kem Sokha speaking to supporters in the Khmer language and discussing a political strategy with U.S. support rather than an immediate plot to oust the government.

Kem Sokha’s opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) made no immediate comment on the video and either its veracity or content. These could not be independently verified.

Kem Sokha was heard comparing the situation in Cambodia to that in the former Yugoslavia in 2000, when protests helped to bring down former leader Slobodan Milosevic.

“Before changing the top level, we need to uproot the lower one... The USA, which has assisted me, has asked me to take the model from Yugoslavia, Serbia, where they were able to change the dictator Milosevic,” he appears to say.

“I do not do anything at my own will. I have experts, university professors in Washington DC, Montreal, Canada hired by the Americans in order to advise me on the strategy to change the leaders. And if I follow such a tactic and strategy and if I could not win, I do not know what else to do.”

The government has recently increased its rhetoric against the United States and last month ordered the expulsion of the U.S. State Department-funded National Democratic Institute pro-democracy group.

Reporting by Chan Thul; Editing by Matthew Tostevin

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