Dissident Group Lobbies Against UN Seat Bid

A U.S.-based group of Cambodian dissidents has called on U.N. member states to deny Cambodia a nonpermanent seat on the Security Council when they vote on the request next week.

In a letter sent out on Friday, Sourn Srey Ratha, president of the Khmer People Power Movement [KPPM], admonished Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government, saying that it lacks the traits needed to fulfill the Security Council mandate.

“The regime of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, from the Cambodian People’s Party is authoritarian, against the freedom of speech, never respectful of human rights, corrupted, kleptocratic,” the group said in a statement sent to all 192 missions at the U.N’s headquarters in New York.

The statement cited political interference in the Khmer Rouge tribunal, violent land disputes and forced evictions as some of the reasons that Cambodia should be denied the U.N. seat, which would see it working alongside permanent members such as China and the U.S. on international issues.

The General Assembly will vote on the 2013 to 2014 nonpermanent Security Council seat on Thursday. Cambodia, which is contesting the seat against South Korea and Bhutan, has already secured the backing of at least 17 countries in its bid.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said he had not seen the statement but dismissed its contents, insisting that Cambodia had proven itself capable of maintaining peace and stability.

“Those people represent their own group…[they work] against the government and sometimes they play terrorist activities,” Mr. Siphan said of the KPPM.

Mr. Siphan said the government represented people’s interests and had the support of at least 80 percent of voters at the U.N. General Assembly. He also said he was confident that the vote next week would go in Cambodia’s favor.

“We have the experience to share that. We are positive on that one.”

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