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Ministry reacts to US travel ban

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
The Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement expressing its regret over the visa ban. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has expressed its deep regret over the United States’ visa restrictions on Cambodian officials in the aftermath of legal action against the CNRP and its leader Kem Sokha.

The opposition CNRP was dissolved last month after Mr Sokha was jailed on treason charges for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government with US aid.

According to a ministry statement on Friday, the US decision did not take Cambodia’s recent political developments into consideration.

“The move was politically motivated, with prejudice and double standards,” it said.

The US State Department said last week that it would restrict issuing visas to Cambodian officials, hindering those deemed to have been “undermining democracy” from entering the US.

The move came after the opposition CNRP’s National Assembly seats were redistributed to smaller parties and found support from Mr Sokha’s daughter.

“We welcome the visa ban from the US on Cambodian officials,” Mr Sokha’s daughter, Kem Mnovithay, said on twitter.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said that legal action against a handful of law-breaking individuals, NGOs, and media outlets should not be viewed as an attempt to undermine Cambodia’s democracy.

“The US reaction to Cambodia’s recent political development does not appear to be about democratic values, considering its different treatment toward various countries on the matter of democracy and respect for human rights,” it said.

It added that politicians, media outlets and NGOs that have not breached the law continue to carry out their respective activities freely.

Political analyst Meas Ny said that the US will continue to put pressure on the government if it does not show signs of improvement.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan mocked the US and other developed countries for their efforts to get Mr Sokha released from prison.

“Does your country release traitors?” Mr Eysan asked. “Cambodia is not concerned because we have our own sovereignty and are not influenced by the United States.”

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