Kem Sokha (Khmer: កឹម សុខា; born 27 June 1953) is a Cambodian politician and activist who currently serves as the President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). He served as the Minority Leader, the highest ranking opposition parliamentarian, of the National Assembly from December 2016 to January 2017, and previously as the First Vice President of the National Assembly from August 2014 to October 2015. He has represented Kampong Cham as its Member of Parliament (MP) since 2008. From 2007 to 2012, Sokha was the leader of the Human Rights Party, which he founded.
He is currently imprisoned at a detention centre in Tboung Khmum Province following his arrest on 3 September 2017 under allegations of treason.
Kem Sokha has a Master of Science in Biochemistry from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague, Czech Republic and a law degree from the Royal University of Law and Economics, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
His political career began in 1993, when he was elected a representative for Kandal; at that time he was a member of Son Sann's Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party. In 1999, he joined the royalist FUNCINPEC and subsequently elected a senator. He resigned from his Senate seat in 2001. In 2002, he founded the Cambodian Center for Human Rights but left that organisation to join politics in 2005. He founded the Human Rights Party, which came third in the 2008 elections.
Kem Sokha is well known for his weekly town hall meetings at local level throughout the country. He was the first to introduce a free and open forum discussing issues concerning civic and political rights, as well as social and economic development, at village level in Cambodia. Kem Sokha is known for his non-violent, political tolerant policy standing on democratic and unity principles. His words are often quoted and repeated by ordinary Cambodians. His phrase "Do Min Do" (literal translation to English: "Change or no change") became the anthem for the Cambodia National Rescue Party's election Campaign in July 2013, which drew an unprecedented amount of youth participation.
On 26 August 2014, Sokha was elected by the National Assembly as its First Vice President with 116 votes, the first opposition MP to hold the office. On 30 October 2015, he was ousted from the vice presidency by a vote of 68–0 following disagreements with the ruling party. On 9 September 2016, after months under house arrest, Sokha was sentenced to five months in prison after refusing to appear in court for questioning in a prostitution case against him. He was later granted a royal pardon by King Norodom Sihamoni. Following his release, he was officially appointed as Minority Leader. However, the positions of Minority Leader and Majority Leader were abolished altogether by the National Assembly on 31 January 2017 following a proposal by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
On 2 March 2017, Sokha was elected President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party at the party's congress, along with three other deputies. Under his leadership, the party made sweeping gains in the June 2017 local elections, winning 482 of 1,646 communes.
In September 2017, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged Sokha with "treason and espionage", and for allegedly orchestrating the 2014 Veng Sreng street protests. He was arrested at his home on September 3, 2017. Hun Sen and other Cambodian government officials alleged that Sokha was conspiring with the United States of America. Sokha's lawyers have alleged violations of their client's rights under Article 149 of the Criminal Procure Code.