Tuesday, October 22, 2013
US Senator Calls for Suspension of Military Aid to Cambodia
By Joshua Wilwohl - October 22, 2013 The Cambodia Daily
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham last week submitted a resolution to the U.S. Committee on Foreign Relations requesting the suspension of U.S. military assistance to Cambodia until an independent investigation into July’s national election is conducted.
The resolution was submitted on Wednesday to express “the sense of the Senate that United States military assistance for Cambodia should be suspended until an independent and credible investigation occurs into the July 28, 2013, parliamentary elections, and election reforms are being implemented by the Government of Cambodia,” the resolution says.
The resolution references independent domestic and international NGO reports “raising serious concerns” over the election; a U.S. Embassy statement calling for transparency in the electoral system; and a Cambodia Daily editorial by opposition CNRP leader Sam Rainsy about “shocking election irregularities.”
The CNRP is currently boycotting the 55 seats it won in the National Assembly, calling for an independent investigation of the election.
Mr. Graham submitted the resolution to the Foreign Relations committee the same day that Mr. Rainsy met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Wednesday during a press briefing in Washington that Mr. Rainsy’s meeting with Mr. Burns was set to include “a discussion on the ongoing dispute over results of the Cambodian election.”
Mr. Rainsy is on an international tour to lobby foreign governments to delegitimize the administration of Prime Minister Hun Sen and is scheduled to return to Cambodia today.
In June, Mr. Graham and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio submitted a resolution to the Foreign Relations Committee to cut aid to Cambodia because of the country’s poor human rights record.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Monday that it is up to the U.S. to do as it wishes.
“Anything they decide…it’s up to them. Cambodia will still maintain cooperation and good relations with the U.S.,” he said.
In August, Cambodia announced that it had decided to delay U.S.-backed military assistance programs following the July 28 election. However, officials denied that the decision was taken after calls from lawmakers in the U.S. to cut military aid to Cambodia.
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