Cambodia: Opposition Asks ADB to Suspend Funding to Cambodia

WASHINGTON DC – Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has asked the Asian Development Bank to suspend funding to Cambodia, whose government he says was not formed legally following the July elections.

In a letter to ADB President Takehiko Nakao, Sam Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, said the country currently has a one-party government, with the opposition refusing to take part in National Assembly meetings following an election it says was lost through irregularities and fraud.

“As a result of the above-mentioned constitutional coup and ongoing political deadlock, the Asian Development Bank should suspend any agreements with the current government led by Mr. Hun Sen,” Sam Rainsy wrote. “The ADB should also refrain from signing any new agreements with this government, which does not represent the Cambodian people and thus cannot legally make any commitment on behalf of Cambodia.”

No opposition lawmakers-elect—55 in total—have attended National Assembly sessions, making parliamentary decisions by 68 ruling party lawmakers unconstitutional, Sam Rainsy wrote. “Please take into consideration the possible legal consequences of any operation by the ADB in such a context where there is no legal and legitimate government.”

Cheam Yiep, a lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said funds received by the government help all of Cambodia, including its opposition. Cambodia is not a one-party state, he said, referring to the opposition lawmakers who have not attended Assembly sessions.

“However, the CPP cannot aim a gun at the opposition to make them join parliament,” he said.

The Asian Development Bank provides millions of dollars to Cambodia in aid and loans, for a railroad project, poverty reduction and other programs.

Sam Rainsy is at the beginning of a trip the US and European countries, urging them not to recognize the current government.

However, some analysts say the opposition would do better to find a negotiated solution with the CPP within the country, without outside pressure.

“The Cambodian context is not for other countries’ standards,” said Chea Vannath, an independent political analyst. “So we need to solve problems within our own context and the atmosphere of our society, in order to have stable results in the future.” The monarchy, for example, can help Cambodia’s current political deadlock, she said.

Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said domestic political forces have more potential to create change than outside pressure. “I think both sides should sit down and hold mutual talks, then in my view there would be the possibility for better results.”

Interior Minister Sar Kheng told VOA Khmer Tuesday he had discussed negotiations with Sam Rainsy on the phone prior to his departure.

But the CPP would not agree to demands from the Rescue Party over the number of committee heads the opposition wants for the National Assembly, he said.

The opposition wants six of 12 committee chairs, but the CPP is only willing to give them five, he said.

Sam Rainsy, who is traveling, could not be reached for comment.

But Rescue Party Vice President Kem Sokha said the opposition is still asking for the presidency of the National Assembly, as well as some chairmanships of Assembly committees.