US and France Add to Condemnations Against Violence

The US and France have condemned the recent outbreak of violence in Cambodia, joining a host of international organizations who are calling for a return to negotiations to resolve the ongoing political crisis.

Asean also urged all parties to avoid violence and to resolve their problems through dialogue.

US State Department spokes­man James Rubin gave equal disapproval to the government and the opposition on Tuesday.

“We deplore the widespread use of violence in Cambodia, particularly the recent grenade attack on Hun Sen’s residence and at a protest led by Sam Rainsy at the Ministry of Inter­ior,” Rubin said.

“We deplore the use of racist rhetoric, which inspired the killing of five ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia,” he said. “We also deplore the use of force by the Cambodian government in break­ing up demonstrations, denying opposition protesters the right to freedom of expression.”

French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne Gazeau-Secret also condemned the gre­nade attack and expressed sympathy for victims of the violence.

Paris called on all political leaders “to show the utmost restraint and responsibility during this delicate period to avoid creating a climate of violence,” she said.

She also implied that opposition parties should accept the results of the elections, which the CPP won. “It is essential and urgent for the future of the country that all the parties in Cam­bodia act to respect the will of the Cambodian people which was expressed July 26.”

The opposition has refused to recognize the results, claiming fraud. An Asean statement Wed­nesday urged all parties to re­spect the results of the election, “which were generally recognized by the international community as free and fair, as well as to exercise restraint, avoid violence, including extremist acts, and resolve their problems through dialogue and consultations in order to prevent further deterioration of the situation.”

The formation of a new government would contribute to peace and stability in Southeast Asia, the group stated. Asean also supported the role of King Norodom Sihanouk in solving the crisis.

Condemnation for the recent violence poured in Wednesday from international groups. The New York-based group Human Rights Watch called on the international community to take a unified stance on Cambodia.

“The human rights situation in Cam­bodia is rapidly deteriorating. The international community has to take a stand on this,” said Asia director Mike Jendrzejczyk. “Ar­rests of opposition leaders must not be tolerated. At the same time, all parties in Cam­bodia must avoid fueling ethnic violence.”

The International Crisis Group, an independent group chaired by former US Senator George Mit­chell, called on the government “to end immediately its heavy-handed crackdown on opposition protesters and return to the path of peaceful dialogue.” The crackdown “marks a gross violation of the legal rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression of every Cambodian.”



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