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Kingdom no ‘banana republic’: government

A strongly worded statement disseminated yesterday by the Foreign Affairs Ministry decried diplomats’ criticism of the July 28 national election, and asked them to stay out of the Kingdom’s internal affairs.

“[Cambodia] is indeed not a banana republic,” reads the statement written by ministry spokesman Koy Kuong. “Cambodia can never accept the arrogant behaviour of [an] ambassador from any foreign diplomatic mission, whatever the country he represents.”

The statement was dated Monday and issued shortly after the United States Embassy clarified that Ambassador William Todd’s attendance at the newly formed National Assembly’s inaugural session on Monday was not an endorsement “of any election outcome or any political party”.

Kuong’s letter defended the government’s handling of allegations by the Cambodia National Rescue Party and election monitors of widespread election fraud.

All 55 elected CNRP lawmakers boycotted Monday’s session.

Contacted by telephone yesterday, Kuong declined to say whether the letter took aim at any particular foreign mission.

“We had a reason we chose to send this [letter] yesterday,” Kuong said. When asked by a Post reporter who the letter was directed towards, Kuong replied: “I know that you already know.”

Officials from the US, Australian and several other embassies did not respond to emailed requests for comment about the letter.

The statement goes on to remind foreign diplomats of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which stipulates they have a duty to avoid interfering with other countries’ internal affairs.

While the Foreign Affairs Ministry statement invokes the Vienna Convention, political analyst Kem Ley said the government broke the 1991 Paris Peace Accords by convening the National Assembly without any opposition members present.

Foreign diplomats in Cambodia have a duty to promote democracy here, Ley added.

“If they are working here, they must insure they are working with a democratic government,” he said.

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