Hun Sen pressured to reverse ban on opposition politicians

Cambodia mulls concessions to avert harsh EU sanctions.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is considering reversing a ban on more than 100 opposition politicians to avert European Union sanctions that could plunge the country into an economic crisis.

But while it appears the Cambodian government is attempting to save its preferential access to the EU market through the “Everything But Arms” initiative, the country’s outlawed opposition is in turmoil and does not look able to capitalize on any concessions.

The EU in November began a formal procedure to scrap Cambodia’s duty-free access to the single market, meaning its garments, sugar and other exports could face tariffs within a year. The unprecedented move came after a political crackdown that resulted in the outlawing of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, the arrest of its leader, Kem Sokha, and the banning of more than 100 senior opposition officials. One of the EU demands was the reinstatement of the CNRP.

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