[Editor’s Note: Farhan Aziz Haq is the deputy spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. He spoke to VOA’s Sok Khemara about the Cambodian government’s crackdown on the opposition and growing democratic crisis leading up to next year’s general election. The US Mission to the United Nations on Monday was due to host a panel discussion on the ‘devolution of democracy in Cambodia’ featuring Kem Monovithya, opposition spokeswoman, Pa Nguon Teang, founder of the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, and John Sifton, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.]
VOA: What is the UN Secretary General’s assessment of Cambodian democracy and human rights?
FAH: The Secretary-General is concerned about the persistent narrowing of democratic space for political parties, media and civil society ahead of the 2018 national elections. We expect that the political environment and the time leading to the elections, in particular, will be free of intimidation, harassment, and fear. Democratic dialogue among all stakeholders is essential towards an increasingly peaceful and stable society in Cambodia
VOA: Will the UN consider revoking Cambodia’s seat due to the dissolution of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party?
FAH: This Secretary-General has no role in granting or denying UN membership or seats to States. This is a question for the member States of the United Nations themselves. Article 6 of the UN Charter says: A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.
VOA: What is the UN ‘s plan to restore the situation in Cambodia?
FAH: The Secretary-General will continue to follow the situation in Cambodia and urge the authorities to abide by the commitments they have made in an area of human rights and preserve the democratic achievements the country has made.