Exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy met with a senior US State Department official in Washington on Wednesday, claiming Cambodian courts were working to marginalize his party.
“The current ruling party in Cambodia uses the court system as a tool to prevent opposition or minorities from having a legitimate right to protect the people’s interest against corruption,” Sam Rainsy said, following a meeting with Scot Marciel, the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of Asean affairs.
Sam Rainsy is currently on a visit to the US to build political support for his party, which holds 26 seats in the National Assembly, compared to 90 held by the Cambodian People’s Party.
Sam Rainsy is facing criminal charges for publishing a map on his party’s website to support claims that a border arrangement between Vietnam and Cambodia has eroded national land, and he is facing a jail sentence on charges related to uprooting border markers in Svay Rieng province.
Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer that he had raised issues of forced evictions, restricted freedom of assembly, the prosecution of journalists and a biased judiciary with Marciel.
“So there should not be one group that tries to eliminate another group, like in Cambodia,” Sam Rainsy said. “In the US, democracy is lively because they know how to respect each other, especially the majority that respects the minority.”
Cambodian government officials said Wednesday they were not concerned with Sam Rainsy’s visit to the US.
Sam Rainsy is scheduled to meet with other officials from Congress and rights groups before giving a speech to a group of Cambodian-Americans in Virginia.