Congressmen Lowenthal and Chabot Call On Secretary Of State Tillerson To Ensure Free And Fair Cambodian Elections
Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Congressman Steve Chabot (OH-01), co-chairs of the Congressional Cambodia Caucus, today called on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to ensure that free and fair elections in Cambodia remain a top priority for United States foreign policy in Cambodia.
In a letter, the Congressmen state that the U.S. State Department can play a critical role by communicating to the Cambodian government of Prime Minister Hun Sen the importance of holding elections deemed credible by the international community.
The Congressmen also highlight the passage by the House last year of their resolution, H.Res.728, which established the House’s official support for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Cambodia. The resolution noted numerous instances of opposition party members in Cambodia being harassed by the country’s long-ruling regime, as well as widespread reports of irregularities in the 2013 national elections which resulted in the Hun Sen regime narrowly maintaining its hold on power.
The letter details recent acts of political oppression by the Hun Sen government, including the politically-motivated criminal investigations and charges against the senior officials of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). Sam Rainsy, head of the CNRP, was forced to leave Cambodia and is forbidden from returning, while CNRP deputy leader Kem Sokha was kept under virtual house arrest for months within the party’s headquarters. There have also been recent reports that the Hun Sen government is pursuing a legislative proposal that would effectively dissolve the opposition party.
The letter closes by emphasizing that, “In order to foster a political environment where this is possible, the Cambodian government must immediately drop all politically-motivated charges against opposition leaders, cease harassment of the CNRP, allow Sam Rainsy to freely return to the country, and allow independent election observers at all polling places.”
Click here to read the full text of the letter.