Briefs: Cambodia Votes to Condemn Russia, Candlelight Party Alleges Obstruction

3 min read
The former headquarters of dissolved opposition CNRP in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district on November 15, 2021. (Mech Dara/VOD)

Cambodia joined 140 other countries to vote in favor of a U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a day after Germany and France implored the country to vote in the affirmative.

The General Assembly held a historic emergency session on Wednesday, where 141 countries voted to condemn Russia’s assault on Ukraine, with 34 abstentions — including India and China — and five votes against the motion.

The ambassadors of Germany and France met with a Foreign Ministry official on Wednesday to “condemn Russia’s aggression” against Ukraine, with the French ambassador also meeting with Defense Minister Tea Banh to push for Cambodia’s support for the resolution. 

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing concern at the worsening humanitarian conditions as a result of online military hostilities in Ukraine.

“While understanding the security concerns at stake, Cambodia upholds its firm position that all Member States must respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of other Member States,” the statement reads.

Government officials have chimed in on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and have mostly adopted a hostile position towards the West and Europe, with Prime Minister Hun Sen saying European nations were fueling the war by giving arms to Ukraine.

Asean Foreign Ministers also released a statement on Thursday calling for an immediate ceasefire, evening offering the regional bloc’s services to facilitate a peaceful dialogue.

— Ananth Baliga

Candlelight Party Alleges Intimidation and Threats

Candlelight Party alleged provincial authorities were threatening and intimidating its activists, including preventing them from putting up party signs.

Activists were being pressured to join other parties, or obstructed from holding Candle Light Party activities, the party said in a statement dated Wednesday. On March 1, unidentified people destroyed a party sign in Kampong Cham province, it said.

The party, formerly the Sam Rainsy Party, asked the government to investigate. The state needed to guarantee there would be no violence, threats, intimidation or vote-buying ahead of the June 5 commune elections, the party said. It noted that the government had directed officials to ensure a fair environment for parties ahead of the elections.

The party has been resuscitated ahead of the commune elections as the country remains without a major opposition party. The main opposition CNRP was outlawed in 2017.

The CNRP was formed as a merger between the Sam Rainsy Party and Kem Sokha’s Human Rights Party, but the Sam Rainsy Party had remained for officials elected prior to the merger.

— Seng Thai

Court Summons Rainsy, Wife Over Forced Sale of His Property

A Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge summoned former opposition leader Sam Rainsy and his wife for questioning over the forced selling of his property, which once housed the headquarters of the dissolved opposition CNRP.

In a summons dated February 28 and seen by VOD on Thursday, judge Im Vannak summoned Rainsy and his wife Tioulong Saumura to show up at the court on March 11 at 8:30 a.m. for questioning regarding the forced sale of his property in Meanchey district’s Chak Angre Leu commune for the judge to decide on whether initiate the sale. The proceeds from the sale will be used to pay off more than $2 million in fines Rainsy owes in four separate convictions.

The summons said the two must come to the court on time and bring along relevant documents.

In November last year, the court announced the outlawed CNRP’s former headquarters would be put on sale. Based on satellite imagery, the land is roughly 10 by 120 meters, making its value about $1.8-2.4 million based on realtors’ estimates.

Rainsy has been prevented from returning to the country amid a slew of convictions against him. An attempted — and failed — return in 2019 has led to mass trials against his supporters.

— Ouch Sony

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