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France voices concerns over threat to democracy

May Titthara / Khmer Times Share:
Thierry Mathou. Supplied

France has expressed concern over Cambodia’s current political situation, urging the government to return to a democratic process by allowing opposition media and civil society to function without hindrance.

Thierry Mathou, director for Asia and Oceania at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, met with Cambodian authorities, representatives of the opposition, civil society, and of the international community during his visit to the country on Monday and yesterday.

Mr Mathou said the dissolution of the CNRP, as well as the arrest and incarceration of its leader and the five-year political ban for 118 of its members affected the democratic process in Cambodia.

“France is concerned over Cambodia’s political situation, especially in light of the upcoming general elections of July 2018,” Mr Mathou said.

“The closing of the NGO Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, if it came to be, would be considered a particularly concerning new development.”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said during a gathering of garment workers that CCHR must be closed because it was led by foreigners.

On November 16, the Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP following complaints filed by Funcinpec and the Cambodian Youth Party in the wake of CNRP leader Kem Sokha’s arrest on treason charges.

San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability Cambodia, said that France’s concerns stemmed from the signature of the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement.

“They want to see our country respect human rights and democratic process,” he said.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said that opposition figures always propagate fake news when they disagree with the government.

Those that do not recognise Cambodia’s current government are irrelevant, he added.

“Everything is better now than before. This does not pose a threat to Cambodia’s future,” he said.

Mr Eysan also said several media outlets had been abusing their independence to attack the government.

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