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Hun Sen Decries Foreign Interference in Cambodian Politics

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, left, sits inside the session hall of the National Assembly with lawmakers from his Cambodian People's Party, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sept. 24, 2013.

PHNOM PENH & WASHINGTON DC - Prime Minister Hun Sen has said his new government does not need the approval of the international community, in a lengthy public address following a National Assembly session this week boycotted by the opposition.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said this week he will pursue an international campaign against the legitimacy of the new government, which was formed in a package measure by members of the ruling party who attended this week’s Assembly session. The session was an opening meeting following July’s national elections, which the opposition says was marred by irregularities and fraud.

Hun Sen said in a six-hour address on on Wednesday that he opposed “foreign interference” in Cambodia’s political affairs.

“We do not need the recognition of any president or ambassador,” Hun Sen said. “It’s not necessary to ask for the recognition of the UN secretary-general, or signature countries of the Paris Accords. I won’t allow any foreigners to dictate Cambodian politics.”

The United States, among other countries, has called for a credible review of Cambodia’s electoral process, which created a deadlock after the announcement of a victory by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. The CPP won 68 of 123 National Assembly seats—a drop of 22 seats—to the opposition’s 55.

Sam Rainsy, who is president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, told VOA Khmer on Wednesday he will ask the UN to temporarily suspend Cambodia’s seat there, calling the formation of the new government a violation of Cambodia’s constitution.

“Any country that still works regularly with the Phnom Penh government associates themselves with a violation of the constitution, defies the Paris Peace Accords, and also mistreats the Cambodian people,” he said in an interview.

Yem Ponharith, a spokesman for the Rescue Party, said the campaign would have an effect on Cambodia’s “incomplete government.”

However, observers like Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, have their doubts.

“It will not make a big impact on the legitimacy” of the new government, he said. But the government must also “care about international support.”

Other countries have already congratulated the new government for its formation, including China and North Korea, Cuba and Russia, and neighboring Vietnam and Laos.

Cambodia is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly later this month. The UN in the past suspended Cambodia’s seat—following the 1997 coup that put the CPP squarely in power.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said this would not happen again. The UN, he said, is comprised of individual nations. “It’s not a political body that would involve itself with a political party that lost an election, or a minority party at all.”