Washington announces sanctions against those who have participated in “undermining democracy”
July 24 (EUROPA PRESS) –
The United States Department of State has shown its concern this Sunday about the Cambodian elections, which the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, has presented to revalidate his mandate, without opposition, which is why the United States does not consider the elections to be neither “fair” nor “free”.
“On the eve of the elections, the Cambodian authorities undertook a series of threats and harassment against the political opposition, the media and civil society, undermining the spirit of the Constitution (…). These actions denied the Cambodian people the possibility to express their opinion and choose the future of the country,” department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.
That is why Miller has announced visa restrictions on individuals who have participated in “undermining democracy” and “crippling certain foreign aid programs.”
Washington has urged the Cambodian government to improve the country’s international standing by restoring “true multi-party democracy,” “ending impeachment trials,” “overturning convictions against government critics” and “allowing independent media outlets to reopen and function without interference.”
Finally, Miller has assured that they hope to continue collaborating with the people of Cambodia in their “aspirations” for a more prosperous, democratic and independent country.
The Cambodian leader could face the final episode of a long tenure as the man who has led the country on and off for four decades begins to openly eye his son, General Hun Manet, as a possible successor.
If Hun Sen looks strong for a new term, the succession should theoretically wait until 2028. However, in recent days the president has dropped cryptic statements that point to the possibility of an immediate succession, next month at the earliest.
Hun Sen consolidated his dominance in the country in late 2017, when the country’s Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). Its leader, Kem Soja, ended up sentenced in March this year to 27 years in prison at the end of a process widely denounced by human rights groups, for “conspiring with a foreign power.”
The case against Soja stemmed from a comment he made during a public event in which he explained a possible coordinated political strategy with the United States ahead of the 2013 elections, although without mentioning an immediate overthrow of the government.
Five years later, Hun Sen absolutely dominates the country’s political scene at 70 years of age and after a quarter of a century uninterrupted in power after a coup in 1997, although he first came to office in 1985 and since then has been at the forefront of politics, except for four years of unstable coalition that he decided to end with the uprising.
For this occasion, Hun Sen has extricated himself from another fledgling opposition party, the CNRP heir to the Candlelight Party, which won a hopeful 22 percent in last year’s local elections. In May, the Electoral Commission disqualified the formation for a bureaucratic procedure. In February, he had withdrawn the license of the Voice of Democracy radio station, one of the last independent media outlets in the country.
Organizations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) have denounced the recent relentless persecution against the remnants of the opposition in the country.