Prak Sokhon, Cambodia’s newly appointed foreign minister, on Thursday convened a meeting with 29 embassy officials following his appointment as the replacement for retiring elder statesman Hor Namhong.
The meeting occurred amid heightened political tensions, with the judiciary issuing subpoenas to opposition members and rights workers over allegations of defamation and involvement in a sex scandal plaguing opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party deputy president Kem Sokha.
Chum Sounry, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters that neither Sokhon nor embassy officials discussed the current political situation during the meeting on Thursday.
“In this meeting, after his Excellency [Prak Sokhon] talked, the 29 chiefs of diplomatic missions who attended this meeting exchanged opinions. During this meeting, nobody mentioned the current political situation in Cambodia. Thus, there was no discussion on the current political situation,” he said.
The meeting came just three days after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged four rights workers, an election official and a UN worker with bribery and being an accomplice to bribery of the key witness in the case against Sokha – his alleged mistress Khom Chandaraty.
Civil society groups said the charges were politically motivated.
On Monday, Transparency International and Human Rights Watch issued statements calling on the Cambodian authorities to end the harassment of civil society.