Prime Minister Hun Sen has criticized foreign government officials for interfering in the politics of Southeast Asian nations in a speech at the World Economic Forum on Asean in Vietnam.
Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for more than 30 years, said countries outside of the region were “always slapping our heads” and “getting involved in regional politics,” according to a video of the speech posted on his Facebook page.
“I raised this issue, not as a message for any particular country, but I think that the Mekong countries are political victims, so I ask that those outside of the region who are not aware of our issues, you should let us solve our own problems,” he said.
Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party won all of the seats in a parliamentary election in July after the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party was banned in November and during a wide-ranging crackdown on the opposition, civil society, and independent media.
The moves drew criticism from the west, including the United States, which has imposed limited sanctions on Cambodian officials as a result of the crackdown. Cambodia had accused Washington of plotting with the former leader of the opposition, Kem Sokha, to overthrow Hun Sen. Sokha was jailed on treason charges and is now living under house arrest while his trial proceeds.
On Monday, Michelle Bachelet, the former Chilean president and current UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told a meeting of the UN nations that the declining rights situation in Cambodia would impact Cambodia’s social and economic growth.
Ney Sam Ol, Cambodia’s ambassador to the UN, said he was disappointed by the remarks in a statement that labeled her sources as “politically motivated” and said she was “ignoring the real needs on the ground and the tragic path of hard-earned peace” Cambodia had been through since its civil war ended in the early 1990s.
He said the election was an “unprecedented event in the contemporary history of Cambodia” pointing to the participation of 20 parties in the vote.