US President George W Bush intends to nominate Joseph Mussomeli, a senior career diplomat stationed in the Philippines, to be the next US ambassador to Cambodia, the US Embassy in Phnom Penh confirmed Thursday.
If he gets the job, the outspoken Mussomeli would replace current Ambassador Charles Ray, who has largely avoided the media spotlight in Cambodia.
It is too early to predict when Mussomeli will arrive if he gets the job, the embassy said.
On April 12, Mussomeli, who is currently deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Manila, made international headlines when he was summoned by the Filipino government and handed a diplomatic protest over remarks he made on television that the restive south of that country risked turning into “an Afghanistan situation,” Fox News reported.
The Filipino Department of Foreign Affairs called some of his comments “grossly inaccurate [and] patently unfair.”
Mussomeli, who has also worked in Morocco and Bahrain, said there was “absolutely nothing to apologize for,” Fox News said.
Mussomeli has also been involved with the US Rewards for Justice Program, which rewarded informants of terrorist activities.
He has also spoken out strongly on corruption in the Philippines.
An outspoken US ambassador would be welcome among Cambodia’s human rights community, Lao Mong Hay of the Center for Social Development said Thursday.
As the world’s main superpower and Cambodia’s biggest trading partner, “America does have leverage [over the government] if it is willing to use it,” Lao Mong Hay said.