WASHINGTON DC —
Cambodia’s opposition leader has urged donor countries to reconsider their development assistance to Cambodia saying they should not “do business as usual” and continue to turn a blind eye to the growing political crisis facing the country.
“I’ve asked the leadership of the United States and all friendly countries to reconsider their position, projects, and plans,” Sam Rainsy told a group of Cambodian Americans in Washington, DC this week. “Any decision relating to Cambodia made in the last six months should be reconsidered. It should be paused and suspended because the situation now is at a tipping point. They should not ignore it and do business as usual.”
Rainsy is currently on a visit to the United States where he met with U.S. officials including Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Tom Malinowski, assistant secretary of state for human rights, democracy, and labor. He also met US lawmakers, including Senator John McCain and Congressman Ed Royce, chair of the House’s Foreign Affairs Committee, to brief them about the situation in Cambodia.
“In Cambodia, there is a serious crisis that we can even call an emergency because since the 1997 coup, the situation has not been as tough as nowadays, and the political heat is not as hot and burning as now,” Rainsy said in a live Hello VOA broadcast this week.
He urged the Cambodian government to release detained human rights defenders and opposition party officials and activists. There should not be more arrests, he added.
Last week numerous protests were held around the world by Cambodian expatriate communities, who also called for the release of those they consider jailed for political reasons.
They also called for the creation of a “Cambodia contact group” made up of foreign officials, to observe the upcoming elections in 2017 and 2018.
Rainsy said the protesters proposal was a “good initiative”.
“Nowadays, Cambodia has slipped away from the democratic path,” said Rainsy. “Therefore, all the [Paris Peace Agreement] signatory countries must come out. They made promises and assurances, so now they have to fulfill their promise to bring Cambodia back to a democratic path.”