Consumed by corruption and lawlessness, Cambodia could soon duplicate Burma’s role as a “recalcitrant narco-state,” opposition leader Sam Rainsy said in Washington on Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reported.
Sam Rainsy also said Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government was guilty of voter intimidation and electoral fraud in the run-up to the general elections in July, AFP said.
“Five more years of lawlessness under Hun Sen will make Cambodia into a prime staging ground for the terrorists of the age,” Sam Rainsy said at the American Enterprise Institute think tank, according to AFP.
“Burma also provides a preview of the direction that Cambodia is headed,” he said.
“Lacking a mechanism for political change, Burma remains under the thumb of a corrupt military junta and poses a constant threat to its own people and to the larger world through its opium trade. Without change, Cambodia is not far off from resembling this recalcitrant narco-state.”
A UN Office on Drugs and Crime report this week warned that Cambodia’s development could be undermined by a growing drug trafficking and drug abuse problem.
Sam Rainsy warned that the chances of opposition candidates winning a significant amount of seats in the July elections was already doomed.
“By controlling the political and electoral playing field, using state power and resources, Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party wins elections before the final vote is cast,” Sam Rainsy said. “A free and fair election in 2003 is not attainable at this moment in time.”
The US has raised repeated concerns about what it says is politically motivated violence in Cambodia, and harassment of candidates from the Sam Rainsy Party and other groups.
Sam Rainsy met several senior US State Department policymakers during his trip to Washington, including informal encounters with Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs James Kelly and his counterpart in the department’s bureau of human rights, democracy and labor, Lorne Craner.
Meanwhile, Cambodia will send a delegation to the UN-sponsored Commission on Narcotic Drugs ministerial meeting in Vienna, Austria next week, Interior Ministry officials said on Thursday.
Interior Ministry Secretary of State Prum Sokha will lead the five-person delegation that will also include Teng Savong, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, and Khieu Sopheak, Interior Ministry spokesman and deputy secretary-general of the NACD.
The commission—which will be attended by representatives from more than 100 countries—meets each year to discuss anti-narcotics efforts and trends, Khieu Sopheak said. The delegation departs Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday and will return on Friday.
Cambodia’s anti-narcotics police chiefs also announced that a National Workshop on Drugs in Cambodia will take place May 5 and May 6 in Phnom Penh in Chaktomuk Theater.
Hundreds of police, health and customs officials will attend the meeting, which is devoted to developing a community response to tackle the country’s growing drugs problem.
Deputy Prime Minister and co-Interior Minister Sar Kheng will open the two-day workshop and Prime Minister Hun Sen is scheduled to close the event.
(Additional reporting by Kevin Doyle)