The outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia on Tuesday called on the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen to free his country’s opposition chief Kem Sokha and foster political reconciliation in the Southeast Asian nation, following a contentious general election widely dismissed as unfree and unfair.
According to a statement posted by the U.S. Embassy’s to its Facebook account, U.S. Ambassador William Heidt held a farewell meeting with Hun Sen, during which he welcomed efforts by the prime minister in “furthering a productive relationship” between Washington and Phnom Penh.
But Heidt urged Cambodia’s government to improve ties with the U.S. by rolling back a months-long crackdown on the opposition, NGOs and the independent media that saw Kem Sokha arrested for “treason” in September last year and his opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) banned two months later, leading Washington to withdraw election aid in the lead up to the July 29 ballot.