NDI Ordered to Halt Operations, Foreign Staff Face Expulsion

The Foreign Affairs Ministry on Wednesday ordered the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute to stop its operations in Cambodia and gave its foreign staff one week to leave the country for not fulfilling tax and registration obligations.

Authorities “have reached the decision to stop the operation of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Cambodia and to expel its foreign staff from the Kingdom within seven days after the official notification of this decision,” according to a statement.

It cites the 2015 Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations, and accuses NDI of operating in Cambodia without being registered with the Foreign Affairs Ministry until it filed a request in June last year.

NDI, a nonprofit organization working to support democracy around the world, has continued to operate pending a decision “with total contempt,” the statement adds.

The announcement comes less than a week after documents leaked on Facebook and circulated on government-affiliated media appeared to show political cooperation between NDI and the opposition party, amid increased tension in recent weeks between the government and U.S.-backed NGOs and media outlets.

NDI could not immediately be reached for comment.

Radio Free Asia and Voice of America have also both been accused of not fulfilling tax and registration obligations. The Cambodia Daily, whose publisher is a U.S. citizen, was hit with a $6.3 million unaudited tax bill and threatened with imminent closure if it is not paid by September 4.

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