Cambodia faces international action after opposition party ban

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The ban of Cambodia’s largest opposition party Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) by the country’s Supreme Court ahead of elections is not at all being appreciated by Western powers. The US has pledged to undertake “concrete step” against Cambodia, while the European Union has warned that it would cut down on trade preferences for the country which would hit Cambodia’s garment industry hard, the mainstay of its economy, hard.

The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court on November 16 at the request of the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose rule of more than three decades faces a major challenge at next year’s general election.

In its ruling, the court banned more than 100 CNRP members from politics for five years on grounds of conspiring with foreigners to stage a revolution. This paves the way for Hun Sen’s governing Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to run effectively unopposed at the ballot boxes.

The ban followed the arrest of CNRP leader Kem Sokha for treason. He is accused of plotting to take power with US help. The party’s co-founder, Sam Rainsy, has been banned from politics altogether since February 2017.

A White House statement called the CNRP dissolution “an attempt to steal the election and the death knell for democracy” after Western donors have spent billions of dollars since 1993 trying to build a multi-party system following decades of war.

“On current course next year’s election will not be legitimate, free or fair,” the statement read.

The first of those was to end support for the Cambodian National Election Committee ahead of the 2018 election, it said.

An EU spokesman said the election could not be legitimate without the opposition and noted that respect for human rights was a prerequisite for Cambodia’s access to EU trade preferences under its “Everything But Arms scheme”.

That scheme giving tariff-free access to the EU market, as well as similar trade preferences in the US, have helped Cambodia build a garment industry on low-cost labour. The EU and the US markets take some 60 per cent of Cambodia’s exports.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The ban of Cambodia’s largest opposition party Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) by the country’s Supreme Court ahead of elections is not at all being appreciated by Western powers. The US has pledged to undertake “concrete step” against Cambodia, while the European Union has warned that it would cut down on trade preferences for the country which would hit Cambodia’s garment industry hard, the mainstay of its economy, hard.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The ban of Cambodia’s largest opposition party Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) by the country’s Supreme Court ahead of elections is not at all being appreciated by Western powers. The US has pledged to undertake “concrete step” against Cambodia, while the European Union has warned that it would cut down on trade preferences for the country which would hit Cambodia’s garment industry hard, the mainstay of its economy, hard.

The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court on November 16 at the request of the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose rule of more than three decades faces a major challenge at next year’s general election.

In its ruling, the court banned more than 100 CNRP members from politics for five years on grounds of conspiring with foreigners to stage a revolution. This paves the way for Hun Sen’s governing Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to run effectively unopposed at the ballot boxes.

The ban followed the arrest of CNRP leader Kem Sokha for treason. He is accused of plotting to take power with US help. The party’s co-founder, Sam Rainsy, has been banned from politics altogether since February 2017.

A White House statement called the CNRP dissolution “an attempt to steal the election and the death knell for democracy” after Western donors have spent billions of dollars since 1993 trying to build a multi-party system following decades of war.

“On current course next year’s election will not be legitimate, free or fair,” the statement read.

The first of those was to end support for the Cambodian National Election Committee ahead of the 2018 election, it said.

An EU spokesman said the election could not be legitimate without the opposition and noted that respect for human rights was a prerequisite for Cambodia’s access to EU trade preferences under its “Everything But Arms scheme”.

That scheme giving tariff-free access to the EU market, as well as similar trade preferences in the US, have helped Cambodia build a garment industry on low-cost labour. The EU and the US markets take some 60 per cent of Cambodia’s exports.

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