PHNOM PENH —
Cambodia’s national election body this week told reporters it remained politically neutral after it was targeted by the European Union for sanctions.
The EU on Tuesday announced it was suspending funding for the National Election Committee (NEC) in response to a government crackdown on political opposition to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Last month, the United States also suspended funding for the NEC, as well as issuing visa restrictions on dozens of senior officials.
In September, the government arrested Kem Sokha, the president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, on treason charges. The party was ordered closed last month in a court decision and more than 100 of its members banned from politics for five years.
“The EU should understand that the NEC implements technical work and it is not reasonable for the EU to relate the court issue and political situation to the technical work of the NEC,” the NEC said in a statement.
The EU mission in Cambodia could not be reached for comment, but in a statement when it announced the withdrawal of funding it said the dissolution of the CNRP meant the government could not organize a free and fair election.
The NEC was reformed in 2014 as part of an agreement between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the CNRP, which saw NEC members selected by both sides of the political divide.
Three of its members resigned in November in protest at the crackdown on the opposition.