Cambodia faces int’l action after opposition party ban
PHNOM PENH - Reuters
The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was dissolved by the Supreme Court on Nov. 16 at the request of the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose rule of more than three decades faces a major challenge at next year’s general election.
Hun Sen’s critics called the CNRP dissolution an attempt to steal the election and the death knell for democracy after Western donors have spent billions of dollars since 1993 trying to build a multiparty system following decades of war.
“On current course next year’s election will not be legitimate, free, or fair,” a White House statement said, promising to take “concrete steps.”
In Brussels, an EU spokesman said the election could not be legitimate without the opposition and noted that respect for human rights was a prerequisite for Cambodia’s access to EU trade preferences under its “Everything But Arms scheme.”
That scheme giving tariff free access - and similar trade preferences in the United States - have helped Cambodia build a garment industry on low cost labour. Between them, EU and U.S. markets take some 60 percent of Cambodia’s exports.
In a symbolic step, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution calling on the Treasury and State Departments to consider placing Cambodian officials implicated in abuses on a watch list for asset freezes and travel bans.