Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday he was "satisfied" with the resignation of UN special envoy Yash Ghai, who had been a continuous critic of the government's human rights record.
Ghai, who was the UN secretary-general's special representative to Cambodia for human rights, announced his resignation in Geneva Tuesday. His criticism of Cambodia's human rights efforts over three years had been so nettling that on his last visit, in December 2007, he was not granted a meeting with any government official and Hun Sen called for his termination.
Hun Sen told a crowd gathered at a Pannasastra University graduation ceremony that following Ghai's resignation, "I have no need to curse him anymore."
"I am very satisfied for his resignation," Hun Sen said. "He resigned because he knew Hun Sen would continue to be the prime minister for the next five years, and if Hun Sen continues in his position, he will continue not to meet [Ghai]."
"I will be ready to meet with his successor appointed by the UN secretary-general," Hun Sen said.
Ghai's resignation comes as the UN's Human Rights Council is considering whether it will have a special rights representative for the UN secretary-general in Cambodia, or whether it will have a Council-designated rapporteur.
Ny Chakrya, chief of the investigation unit for the rights group Adhoc, said Tuesday Ghai's resignation signaled how ineffectual his work had become in the face of government resistance.
"He resigned because Cambodia doesn't need a UN special representative who criticizes the government," he said. "But we are very regretful for his resignation, because was a man who could speak out and criticize the government on its human rights violations in Cambodia."
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Ghai's resignation was a loss to victims of human rights violations in the country.
"But we hope that his successor will fulfill good work like Yash Ghai and follow Yash Ghai's line in the prevention of and the struggle against human rights violations in Cambodia."
"I appreciate Yash Ghai, who could speak out against the government in human rights violations in his mission," he said.