Cambodian government lawyers filed a lawsuit on Friday to demand the dissolution of the main opposition party, in a move that would help Prime Minister Hun Sen extend his 32-year rule when the poor Southeast Asian nation votes in an election next year. The attempt to disband the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) comes after its leader, Kem Sokha, was charged with treason following his arrest on September 3. In their lawsuit on Friday, government lawyers said the opposition had conspired with foreigners to topple the government, citing a 2013 video clip that shows Kem Sokha talking about a plan to take power with the help of Americans. “Today we filed a lawsuit at the Supreme Court on behalf of the Interior Ministry to ask to dissolve the CNRP,” Ky Tech, one of the government lawyers, told reporters. “The CNRP, besides colluding secretly with foreigners ... also intends to serve foreigners,” the lawsuit said. Hun Sen counts on China as he cracks down in Cambodia – has he miscalculated? The US embassy said it was unable to comment on the lawsuit filed by the government on Friday, but it had earlier rejected the accusations relating to Kem Sokha. Western countries have condemned the opposition leader’s arrest, and have questioned whether next year’s election can be fair following the crackdown on opposition leaders, activists and journalists. Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander who defected from the genocidal group and helped drive it from power in 1979, is allied to China, and Beijing says it supports the Cambodian government’s efforts to maintain national security and stability. Half of Cambodia’s opposition members of parliament have fled the country. One of the remaining parliamentarians derided allegations that the CNRP had been involved in planning a US-backed coup. “This is intended to destroy democracy in Cambodia,” Mao Monyvann said of the move to shut down the CNRP. The lawsuit came just days after deputy opposition leader Mu Sochua, who also fled the kingdom in fear of arrest, called on Western donors to impose targeted sanctions on Hun Sen’s government to save democracy in the Southeast Asian nation. “Time is up for democracy. How long can the international community wait?” the 63-year-old opposition lawmaker said. Sochua said sanctions could include visa restrictions on top officials, but should not target the exports of garments – mostly to the United States and European Union – on which the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Cambodian workers depend. Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, criticised the international community for not responding more strongly to Hun Sen’s crackdown. “The international community obliged itself to protect human rights and democracy in Cambodia when they signed the Paris Peace Accords, but now they are looking the other way as that dream dies,” Robertson told Reuters. “Prime Minister Hun Sen is effectively putting an end to Cambodian democracy,” he said. Western donors played an essential part in rebuilding Cambodia after 1991 peace accords to end civil war, but their influence has waned as Cambodia’s economy has strengthened and as China has become its most important ally. US Senators John McCain and Dick Durbin introduced a resolution on Tuesday that called on the US State and Treasury Departments to consider putting top Cambodian officials on a list that could stop them visiting America. The ruling Cambodian People’s Party narrowly won the last election in 2013 after losing seats to the opposition in what was Hun Sen’s worst election result since Cambodia returned to full democracy in 1998. The ruling party lost ground in local elections in June, after which, according to opposition members, Hun Sen stepped up his campaign against dissenting voices.