Cambodia laughs off Washington threats over democracy

Cambodia laughs off Washington threats over democracy

Cambodia laughs off Washington threats over democracy

THE UNITED STATES on Wednesday announced new visa restrictions upon individuals it said were involved in "undermining democracy" and violating human rights in Cambodia. The department cited a provision of US immigration law under which individuals can be denied entry if the secretary determines it would have "adverse foreign policy consequences".

The State Department said family members of those responsible may also face visa restrictions.

Mu Sochua is the Vice President of the Cambodian National Rescue Party, which has been disbanded under an internationally condemned ruling by Cambodia's Supreme Court.

The dissolution followed the arrest of CNRP leader Kem Sokha for treason.

"We call on the Cambodian government to reverse course by reinstating the political opposition, releasing Kem Sokha, and allowing civil society and media to resume their constitutionally protected activities", the State Department said in a statement.

Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said Cambodia would give the USA government time to understand the current situation in the country but said Washington should not only believe what the opposition is saying.

The move effectively eliminates any political opposition to President Hun Sen's regime ahead of elections scheduled for next year.

Cambodia's Supreme Court dissolved the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). The party stood accused of attempting to topple the government through the support of the United States, an accusation that Washington has said is a baseless claim.

Sam Rainsy served as finance minister in an ill-fated coalition set up when Hun Sen refused to give up power after losing a UN-organised election in 1993.

Exiled Cambodian opposition politician Mu Sochua, a senior leader of the now-dissolved CNRP, has called on other nations to follow in the footsteps of the United States and sanction Cambodia's government, according to the Australian news company ABC.

"Expressing concern is not enough because these concerns have been expressed over 25 years", she said in the meeting, ABC reported.

Monovithya Kem, an opposition spokeswoman now in the USA, welcomed the visa restrictions and called for targeted financial sanctions on senior officials in Hun Sen's government.

The White House has already terminated USA support of Cambodia's national election committee, saying last month that the July 2018 vote "will not be legitimate, free or fair".

The State Department has said they will continue to monitor the situation in the Southeast Asian nation, with Nauert adding they will take "additional steps as necessary".

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