A group of parliamentarians representing 162 countries has renewed a resolution urging the Cambodian government to find a way for opposition leader Sam Rainsy to return to Cambodia to contest the July elections.
Sam Rainsy is in exile abroad, facing imprisonment on charges he says are politically motivated should he return to Cambodia.
The resolution of the Inter-Parliamentary Union adds to growing international calls for election reforms ahead of the national parliamentary polls. The IPU said both the ruling party and opposition should “do everything possible to work together as a matter of urgency” in allowing Sam Rainsy’s return.
Monitors say they worry the elections will not be considered free and fair without a viable opposition.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan dismissed the resolution, claiming the IPU was attempting to interfere with Cambodia’s sovereignty and rule of law. “We understand that a lack of true information at the IPU led to a wrong decision,” he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has said Sam Rainsy’s case is a matter for the courts.
Sam Rainsy, who has been named the head of the new Cambodia National Rescue Party, told VOA Khmer Thursday that the resolution added to growing international support for his return. That includes the UN’s special envoy to Cambodia, Surya Subedia, and US officials.
“They know that the court is just an excuse that Hun Sen is using to block me from running in the election,” Sam Rainsy said. “He is afraid of competing with me as the president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party.”