Channeling Trump, Cambodia says U.S. officials can 'pack up and leave'
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[August 01, 2019]
PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - U.S. embassy officials in Cambodia
can leave if they do not like it there, a Cambodian government spokesman
said on Thursday, following criticism by U.S. diplomats that the
Southeast Asian nation's 2018 election was deeply flawed.
Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CCP) won all
125 parliamentary seats in the election last year that rights groups
said was neither free nor fair following the dissolution of the main
In a Facebook post on Tuesday marking a year since the vote, the U.S.
embassy in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, said the election had
"failed to represent the will of the Cambodian people".
U.S. officials should not make such "barbaric comments", government
spokesman Phay Siphan said in response.
"Although we are friends, if these officials don't like Cambodia, they
should pack up and leave. Let me be clear: We don't welcome you," Siphan
told a regular news conference on Thursday.
Siphan said he was referring to a Twitter posting last month by U.S.
President Donald Trump telling four ethnic minority Democratic
congresswomen to "go back" to the "the totally broken and crime infested
places from which they came".
"We have the same right to speak as President Donald Trump. It's simple.
If you don't like it here, leave," Siphan said.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy declined to comment.
Tuesday's Facebook post said the 2018 election excluded the main
opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), which was dissolved
by the supreme court in 2017.
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A man holds a Cambodian flag opposite the U.S. Embassy in Phnom
Penh, Cambodia, April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
It also banned 118 of the CNRP's elected officials from politics for
The party's leader, Kem Sokha, was released from prison in 2018
after spending more than a year in jail on treason charges.
He has been under house arrest in Phnom Penh since last September
following a government-led crackdown against its critics.
Cambodia has for years faced criticism for human rights violations
and has increasingly turned toward its main ally, China, for
diplomatic and financial support.
Its military ties with China have drawn increased scrutiny after
concerns expressed by the United States and a media report, denied
by Hun Sen, of a secret deal to allow Chinese forces to use a naval
base in the country.
(Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by James Pearson)
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