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Lawmaker Calls For Closer Adherence to Peace Accords

Kim Sourphirith, an opposition lawmaker and a member of the Sam Rainsy Party.
Kim Sourphirith, an opposition lawmaker and a member of the Sam Rainsy Party.

On a recent visit to Washington, an opposition lawmaker called on signatory countries to the Paris Peace Accords to help reinforce the agreement to improve human rights, democracy and other issues still facing Cambodia.

Kim Sourphirith, a member of the Sam Rainsy Party, last month attended a 20th anniversary ceremony for the accords in Virginia organized by a group of Cambodian-Americans.

In an interview with VOA Khmer, he said the conference was meant to review whether the Cambodian government and the international community have worked toward implementing the accords, “especially on key issues such as sovereignty, integrity, human rights and the democratic process in Cambodia.”

None of these issues are being seriously addressed, he said. The government has set up newspapers and political parties to demonstrate it has been “participating in the democratic process,” he said. “In fact, it has not.”

Cambodia has edged closer to a unilateral system of government, with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party controlling much of the leadership.

The National Assembly contains four parties within it, “but the leadership of the National Assembly is just a rubber-stamp institution,” he said. “The ruling party has a supermajority and can do whatever, decide whatever, as the government wants to do.”

Independent institutions are controlled by the executive branch, in a breech of the principles of the constitution, he said. The CPP also has control of all public administration, he said.

“We don’t want any signatories to leave Cambodia, or the Cambodian government to lead the country, without a review of the Paris Peace Accords,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said, elections are not free and fair, the judiciary does not provide justice, land grabbing and violent crackdowns on protesters persist. Political parties meet with discrimination at the grass roots, while vote buying remains a problem, he said.

And the process for border demarcation is not transparent, he added. “We have asked the signatories to review it again, in order to show transparency regarding the eastern border demarcation with Vietnam,” he said.

With poverty persisting, along with deforestation and overfishing, and with the rich in control of much of the country’s land, he said, “we all need to participate in making changes.”

“The changes that I want are changes through peaceful means,” he said. “This causes our country to move toward development without destruction.”