Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has been meeting with a number of Australian lawmakers in recent days, asking them to urge the Australian government to support his call for reform and a new election in Cambodia.
But while the Cambodia National Rescue Party leader had announced that he was set to meet Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop yesterday, he appears to have been snubbed, at least according to an Australian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, who said Rainsy instead met with the minister’s parliamentary secretary.
“A range of issues of mutual interest were discussed, including the domestic political situation in Cambodia and Australian development assistance,” the spokesperson said.
But CNRP deputy public affairs head Kem Monovithya said last night that Rainsy had spoken with “both” Bishop and the parliamentary secretary.
“There are 50,000 Cambodians living in Australia – they want the Australian government to pay attention to the human rights situation in the country of their ancestors,” Rainsy told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Rainsy also met with Greens Party leader Christine Milne on Tuesday, who backed Rainsy’s call and said he was “one of the strongest campaigners for democracy that you would find anywhere in the world”.
Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap could not be reached for comment yesterday, but he criticised Rainsy’s constant appeals to the international community on Tuesday.
“In the circumstances of this political situation, only Khmers talking to Khmers can solve the problem,” he told local news outlet CEN.