Cambodia leader warns against foreign interference

Cambodia leader warns against foreign interference

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA — Cambodian leader Hun Sen said Monday he would not tolerate foreigners who threaten the country’s peace, days after the jailing of an opposition figure roused international condemnation.

“At any cost, we won’t tolerate any action by anybody who wishes to destroy peace in Cambodia,” he said.

Kem Sokha, the co-founder of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was handed a 27-year prison sentence last week for treason.

He was accused of hatching a plot in collusion with international entities to overthrow Hun Sen’s government.

The United Nations and European Union condemned the ruling, with Washington calling it a “miscarriage of justice” based on a “fabricated conspiracy”.

France, Australia and the United Kingdom also expressed concerns about the case and Cambodia’s ailing democracy ahead of July’s elections.

Hun Sen warned foreigners against any measures that could return the nation to civil war “under the pretext of democracy and human rights”.

He then claimed unnamed nations backed a coup against former leader Prince Norodom Sihanouk in 1970 that plunged Cambodia into a civil war.

One of the world’s longest-ruling leaders, his critics say Hun Sen has wound back democratic freedoms since he came to power in 1985, using the courts to stifle opposition.

Scores of opposition figures were convicted of treason in 2022, while one of the country’s few remaining local independent media outlets was shut down last month.

— AFP

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