The US does not favor one party over another, but will work with any party that wins next year's national elections, freely and fairly, US ambassador to Cambodia Joseph Mussomeli said Saturday.
Speaking to concerns over Cambodia's splintered democratic movements, including the Sam Rainsy Party—the only opposition with seats in the National Assembly—and the new Human Rights Party, the ambassador said the US did not have a role in unifying them.
"I don't think it is appropriate for a foreign government to tell [these parties] to get together, to work together, to win against the current government," he said. "That goes a step beyond…what a foreigner should do in a country."
Mussomeli spoke to a group of Cambodian-Americans Saturday in Atlanta, Ga., on a trip in the US.
The Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party have not said they will join together as a coalition to beat the ruling Cambodian People's Party and its partner, Funcinpec, in the 2008 National Elections.
Mussomeli said the US supported a fair process, not any one political party.
"We can work with Prime Minister Hun Sen forever if he wins the election freely and fairly," Mussomeli said. "And we can work with Kem Sokha, Sam Rainsy, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, any of them, if they win the election freely and fairly. Our concern is with the process, not the actual result, as long as they win freely and fairly."
A Cambodian-American who participated in Saturday's forum expressed his disappointment in Cambodian elections so far.
"We cannot beat Hun Sen's government without pressure from foreign countries, because the election is run by Hun Sen's government," he said.
Cambodia's general election will be held July 27, 2008, in what critics fear will be a rigged process. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has said at least 550,000 names could be wiped from voter lists, ostensibly as the National Election Committee cleans up the registry, and this would be enough to generate a win for the CPP.