Opposition leader Sam Raisny met with US officials and party supporters around Washington, DC, this week, to explain his ongoing negotiations with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
Sam Rainsy, who is the head of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, met with congressional and State Department officials on Thursday. At a dinner in Maryland later that night, he told his supporters he believes they will support his party “both spiritually and politically.”
Sam Rainsy has received some criticism from supporters for dealing with the CPP over the last year, as the two sides negotiated election reforms and cut political deals over positions in the National Assembly.
In Washington, Sam Rainsy met with State Department officials Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Scot Marciel, principal deputy assistant secretary to the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
He also met with House Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Royce has in the past called on Prime Minister Hun Sen to step down, citing violations of human rights and land rights.
However, on this trip, Sam Rainsy says his dialogue with Hun Sn is helping protect human rights, law and democracy. Without such “flexibility of politics,” he told supporters Thursday night, the country cannot progress, elections will not be free and fair and “people will still be fearful.”
Dialogue can solve many national issues, he said, promoting peace and democracy while decreasing political killings, intimidation and imprisonment.
His speech was welcomed by many supporters, like Thomas Mey, a businessman from Maryland.
“I am happy he has come here to tell us about this dialogue,” he said. “Before, we heard only that Cambodia had conflict and killings, but now we are returning to dialogue, just like the United States.”