The US Senate allowed the nomination of a new ambassador to Cambodia to lapse Wednesday, effectively killing the nomination of Kent Wiedemann, at least until January.
The failure to confirm Wiedemann, now charge d’affaires in Burma, puts a question mark over who will fill the post of Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, who had been expected to leave as early as next month.
But the US administration rejected calls from Cambodian opposition politicians for the US to leave the post vacant as a message to Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“In our judgement, it is important to have an ambassador in Cambodia,” a State Department policy statement said this week.
Wiedemann’s nomination was withheld from a vote as the Senate rushed to approve a long list of ambassadorial nominees before recessing for the rest of the calendar year.
Opposition leaders Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Sam Rainsy had opposed Wiedemann in a Sept 11 letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, saying Wiedemann “may be less than supportive of the cause of democracy in Cambodia.”
Embassy insiders said that Quinn, who has served in Phnom Penh for 2 1/2 years, could be asked to stay on for another stint. Or, if he leaves, First Secretary Carol Rodley could be put in charge until a new nominee, perhaps Wiedemann again, is put forward in the new US Senate in January.
Quinn, reached at his office in Phnom Penh, declined comment, saying only, “Kent is a friend of mine, and I am disappointed for him.”
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