As vote nears, Cambodia opposition urges sanction threat

Cambodia's opposition leader is calling on the United States to impose sanctions against strongman Hun Sen if upcoming elections are unfair, saying that Myanmar showed how foreign pressure can work.

Cambodia holds elections on July 28, but Hun Sen has led the country since 1985 and his main challenger, Sam Rainsy, is barred from running due to a string of convictions that the opposition says are politically motivated.

Rainsy, who lives in exile in France to avoid prison, said on a visit to Washington that he was urging the United States and European powers to seek targeted sanctions against Hun Sen to delegitimize him if the vote is rigged.

"There must be a clear warning to the Hun Sen regime that there will not be business as usual following fake elections," Rainsy told AFP in an interview Thursday, saying he was giving the same message to US policymakers.

"If Hun Sen pretends to win in a boxing match in which he boxes alone, his victory would be meaningless," Rainsy said.

Rainsy said that the main retaliation should be a visa ban on top officials and that he opposed sanctions that would hurt ordinary Cambodians.

"Hun Sen craves legitimacy, he craves being able to travel (along with) his family and cronies," he said. "The very process of being banned would make Hun Sen think twice."

Rainsy said Cambodia has become the "new pariah of Southeast Asia" at a time when Myanmar, also known as Burma, is pursing democratic reforms after decades under military rule and being rewarded with an end to most Western sanctions.

"Burma has shown democratic progress and Cambodia is going the opposite way. So the sanctions that have been applied to Burma should be put on Cambodia if no democratic reform and election reform are implemented," he said.

Rainsy, who recently visited Myanmar to meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, said that Cambodia would be even more responsive to pressure due to Phnom Penh's heavily reliance on international assistance.

Myanmar was isolated for decades and many experts believe it undertook reforms in part to reduce its heavy reliance on China -- which also has a close relationship with Cambodia.

Hun Sen recently said he will step down as prime minister when he turns 74 -- after previously saying he would serve until 90. The idiosyncratic leader is 60 but officially lists his age as 62 which he said was the result of a typing error.

Hun Sen has warned that Cambodia risks a return to war if the opposition wins due to Rainsy's vow to prosecute members of his government for alleged roles in the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime.

The United States has criticized the exclusion of Rainsy from the election and said it is urging Cambodia to take steps for a free vote.

"The exclusion of one of the leading opposition leaders calls into question the legitimacy of the democratic process in Cambodia," a State Department official said.

Rainsy, who said he met in Washington with officials at the White House, State Department and Congress, called on the United States not to send observers to the election for fear of legitimizing a "farce."

The opposition leader also called for reforms of the National Election Committee which he accuses of doing the bidding of Hun Sen.

The French-educated Rainsy has lived in exile since 2009. He faces 11 years in jail if he returns over charges that included publishing a "false map" that showed Vietnam controlling Cambodian territory.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Developers prepare for new rules and regulations
    Developers prepare for new rules and regulations

    Known as the "Subdivision and Condominium Buyers' Protective Decree," Presidential Decree No. 957 issued two sets of revised implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) earlier in 2015. A bill initiated by former President Ferdinand Marcos in 1976, the decree and its most recent amendments were designed to "protect buyers from fraudulent and unscrupulous subdivision and condominium sellers, operators and developers," according to the explanatory note that accompanied the bill in its senate …

  • Tsunami warning after Papua New Guinea hit by 7.5 quake
    Tsunami warning after Papua New Guinea hit by 7.5 quake

    A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Papua New Guinea on Monday, US seismologists said, with "hazardous" tsunami waves possible in areas near the epicentre although no major damage was immediately reported. The quake hit at a depth of 33 kilometres (20 miles), some 55 kilometres from the nearest city of Kokopo on New Britain island and 787 kilometres from the capital Port Moresby, the United States Geological Survey said. "Based on all available data... hazardous tsunami waves …

  • ‘Get SAF 44 killers before BBL passage’
    ‘Get SAF 44 killers before BBL passage’

    Lawmakers are demanding the arrest of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters involved in the killing of 44 policemen in Mamasapano before the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the 75-member ad hoc committee in the House of Representatives deliberating on the BBL, prodded the Department of Justice (DOJ) to speed up its investigation and file charges against the MILF guerrillas as the Aquino administration …

  • Pinoys dance for Earth Hour
    Pinoys dance for Earth Hour

    The Philippines once again displayed its support Saturday night for the worldwide observance of Earth Hour by hosting a dance party after turning the lights off from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. to save energy and make a statement on various environmental issues. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said widespread participation proved anew that no individual action on climate change is too small and that no collective vision is too big with celebrations in over 7,000 hubs in 170 countries. The WWF said …

  • Phl offers Sabah to win Malaysia’s support for UN case vs China
    Phl offers Sabah to win Malaysia’s support for UN case vs China

    The Philippines has offered to downgrade its claim on Sabah in exchange for Malaysia’s support for its case against China before the United Nations. The quid pro quo was contained in a note verbale the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) handed to a representative of the Malaysian embassy last week, a week after the visit of Malaysian Defense Minister Dato  Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein. The note verbale, a copy of which was obtained by VERA Files, referred to the May 6, 2009 joint submission …

  • Maysak to enter Phl Wednesday
    Maysak to enter Phl Wednesday

    A typhoon with international name Maysak is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) on Wednesday and bring rains over Northern Luzon by weekend, the state weather bureau said yesterday. Aldczar Aurelio, weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said the typhoon was 2,810 kilometers east of Mindanao as of 10 a.m. yesterday. “This typhoon is still too far to affect any part of the country,” the weather …

  • Nonviolent disciplining of kids pushed

    Child rights advocates called on senators to pass and strongly endorse a law that will institutionalize positive and nonviolent methods of disciplining children.The Child Rights Network (CRN), Plan International Philippines (PIP), Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLPCD), and Lihok Pilipinas Foundation led the call for the enactment of the Positive Discipline Bill.Several Quezon City Council members led by Majority Floor Leader Jesus Manuel Suntay, Victor Ferrer …

  • Method to their madness

    [caption id="attachment_256768" align="alignright" width="212"] Illustration by Rod Cañalita[/caption] EMMANUEL PORTUGAL Country Manager for the Philippines, VMware I look after the garden. I’d like to think that I have a green thumb—no plants have died so far! The ones I like now that I planted a few months ago is the Blue Iris. Like the town in the movie, my Blue Iris shows up in the morning and only appears for one day. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options