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Time to Stand Up for Cambodia, US Lawmakers Urge

Congressman Alan Lowenthal speaks at the Remembrance Day organized by Cambodian-Americans in Long Beach, California. (Say Mony/VOA Khmer)

Congressman Alan Lowenthal says U.S. Congress is concern over the arrest of opposition activists and officials in Cambodia.

Lawmakers in the United States have called for “free and fair” elections in Cambodia and urged Washington to “stand up for what was promised” by Prime Minister Hun Sen ahead of local and general elections scheduled for June and next year.

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D, CA), said in the past the U.S. Congress had expressed concern over the arrest of opposition activists and officials through petitions and public forums, but similar moves had not been made this time around.

“It’s time for us to stand up for what was promised to the people of Cambodia and those are free and fair elections,” Lowenthal said.

He added that his counterpart on the Cambodia Caucus, Steve Chabot (R, OH), was studying the possibility of sending election observers to Cambodia and also other mechanisms for vote monitoring of commune elections.

“I’m going to fight for it,” Lowenthal said.

Cambodia will hold commune council elections on June 4. Twelve political parties are fielding candidates, but only the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party have registered candidates in all 1,646 communes.

The California’s legislature has also introduced a resolution calling for a free and fair election in Cambodia, according to Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell.

“That’s what democracy is all about,” said O’Donnell. “That’s what America is all about and that’s what the Cambodian government should be all about.”

State Senator Ricardo Lara of California said that he is planning to visit Cambodia next year to strengthen ties with the country and will also discuss “human rights issues” its leaders.