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Opposition Leader Warns of Catastrophe

Cambodia’s two opposition leaders are in the US together for the first time, and one of them warns that Cambodia is facing a catastrophe.

Sam Rainsy, leader of his self-named party, and Kem Sokha, head of the Human Rights Party, are in the US together seeking political support.

Speaking at a National Democratic Institute conference in Washington Wednesday, Sam Rainsy said the economic crisis was hitting Cambodia hard. “I can tell you that the situation is catastrophic,” he said. “If the economic crisis lasts, let’s say, one year, two years, then we will have serious problems.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government will not be able to address the economic problems, he said, “so this will bring the regime to a very critical stage.”

Echoing Sam Rainsy’s concerns, Kem Sokha said Cambodia needs to unite its democracy advocates and its messages to help people stand up for their rights, something that would not be possible without help from the international community.

The NDI meeting was attended by Cambodian-Americans, US non-governmental agencies and other institutions. Both leaders were looking for greater support from the US and other countries, and said they worry about the future of Cambodia.

They criticized donors for turning a blind eye to Cambodia’s problems with the economy, human rights, corruption and poverty.