Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday blessed the Cambodian people during a Khmer New Year ceremony, declaring his victory over the opposition party.
Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party dissolved the Cambodia National Rescue Party in November, accusing its leaders, without evidence, of taking part in a conspiracy to overthrow him.
In a rambling 6-page letter published on April 3 by a local media outlet with close ties to the ruling party, Hun Sen wrote: “Over the past year, although Cambodia faced all sorts of obstacles both inside and outside the country, the national defense foundation of the people, the security foundation, political stability, harmony; particularly, the trick of color revolution of the opposition that colluded with foreigners attempting to overthrow the legitimate government, was also successfully curbed by strict laws, and it was a year of serious failure for color revolution in Cambodia”
“As a result, Cambodian retains its peace, independence, and sovereignty as well as avoiding new devastation for the Cambodian people, who are actively participating with their daily standard of living, and the country’s development.”
He added that the rise in the country’s gross domestic product per capita by some 37 percent between 2013 and 2017 and a decline in poverty rates from 53.5 percent in 2004 to 13.5 percent in 2014, was evidence of his regime’s success.
However, Kate Gilmore of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that while there had been progress in some areas, human rights had continued to suffer under Hun Sen. “Economic, social and cultural rights are indivisible from civil and political rights and, we urge the government to take action to reverse the recent serious deterioration in the status of political rights and fundamental freedom,” she said.
Rhona Smith, the U.N. Special Rapporteur to Cambodia, has also been critical of the government’s approach to human rights and democracy of late, saying in a statement in March, the government must do more to protect Cambodians’ freedoms ahead of July’s national election.