The Senate on Friday released a statement condemning a European Parliament resolution on the political situation in Cambodia approved the day before, accusing the E.U.’s legislative body of meddling in the country’s internal affairs and disrespecting the rule of law.
The statement also criticized Australian Senator Scott Ludlam, who this week proposed a similar motion calling for opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s free return to Cambodia.
The CNRP president has not returned to the country since the Phnom Penh Municipal Court earlier this month issued a warrant for his arrest over a years-old defamation case — a move that many rights groups have called politically motivated. Mr. Rainsy was also recently summoned to court over fresh charges of forgery and incitement related to a post on his Facebook page.
On Thursday, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning both the court cases against Mr. Rainsy — which they characterized as “political” — and the recent ouster of deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha as vice president of the National Assembly.
“The Senate of the Kingdom of Cambodia deeply regrets the resolution of the E.U. Parliament on the political situation in Cambodia on November 26, 2015, and the Australian Senator Scott Ludlam, for pushing the government and the Cambodian National Assembly to give immunity…to the opposition party president and acquit him of charges and allow the opposition party president to come back to Cambodia,” said Friday’s statement from the Senate, which was signed by the body’s spokesman, Mam Bun Neang.
The statement added that the European Parliament had violated Cambodia’s sovereignty and betrayed a lack of respect for rule of law by urging the government to interfere in ongoing court cases. It called Mr. Rainsy’s defamation conviction a “private matter” between him and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, who initiated the lawsuit in 2008.
CNRP spokesman Yem Ponhearith declined to comment on the statement.
“It is his idea,” he said, referring to Mr. Bun Neang.
Mr. Ponhearith added, however, that the current situation demanded a political solution because the court cases against Mr. Rainsy were political in nature.
“National and international opinion holds that Cambodia should be able to solve this problem and come back together to develop our country,” he said.