The ruling CPP issued a statement yesterday slamming the United States for criticising the government over perceived political restrictions and calling for the release of former opposition leader Kem Sokha.
On Friday, Morgan Ortagus, spokeswoman for the office of the US State Department, issued a statement reiterating concern over recent judicial proceedings initiated against more than 65 former CNRP members.
“We urge the Cambodian government to remove undue political restrictions on all persons in Cambodia and to release those prisoners who have been arbitrarily or unlawfully detained, including Kem Sokha,” Ms Ortagus said. “We also urge the Cambodian government to support genuine multi-party democracy and ensure its actions and laws comply with Cambodia’s human rights obligations under international law.”
CPP spokesman Chhim Phal Virun said Cambodia is an independent, constitutional, and sovereign country.
“The Royal Government of Cambodia has already considered this. It implemented laws and provided security for people, as well as guaranteeing judiciary [independence],” Mr Phal Virun said. “It is not necessary for another country to consider this.”
“We are not stupid – like as if we don’t know who has good or bad intentions towards Cambodia,” he added. “We are open to strengthening relationships with outsiders, but we will not trade independence and sovereignty for foreign assistance.”
Another CPP spokesman Sok Eysan yesterday concurred with Mr Phal Virun’s statement.
“It is meddling in Cambodia’s internal affairs,” Mr Eysan said.
Last week, Battambang Provincial Court questioned six more former CNRP officials accused of violating a Supreme Court decision dissolving the party.
A total of 26 former CNRP officials were summoned to be questioned earlier this week. On Wednesday, five were questioned by the court, including Reun Kep, Phat Reth, Kun Samorn, Sang Bunmao and Som Vongdara.
When asked about the former opposition party members summoned by courts over the past few weeks, Mr Eysan said all of them were allowed to return home.
“The court just wanted to verify that they did nothing wrong,” he said. “There’s no suppression, they were allowed to return home.”
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay yesterday said the US’ statement is reflective of its obligations as a Paris Peace Agreement signatory.
“It wants to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cambodia,” Mr Mong Hay said.
Additionally in the US statement, Ms Ortagus said the US is deeply concerned about the death of former CNRP member Tith Rorn who collapsed while in Kampong Cham Provincial Prison on April 18.
Ms Ortagus said the US is calling for an independent investigation into the events leading to Mr Rorn’s arrest and death.