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‘US embassy should pack up and leave if unhappy’

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Phay Siphan speaks at a press conference on Thursday. Heng Chivoan

‘US embassy should pack up and leave if unhappy’

Government spokesman Phay Siphan on Thursday dared US embassy officials in Phnom Penh to “pack up” and leave the country if they were not happy with the Kingdom.

Speaking during a press conference under the theme One Year Achievements after the Elections at the Council of Ministers on Thursday, Siphan said regardless of diplomatic relations, Cambodia would not tolerate any interference in its internal affairs.

“We remain friends, but if the [US] officials are not happy with Cambodia, then pack up and leave. We do not welcome them. The embassy officials who have been cruel [to Cambodia] should stop this. This is our request,” he said.

“We resolve [issues] in a diplomatic manner. We don’t deal with problems the way lawless people do. Those people [US embassy officials] keep running off their mouths and inciting others. They like to use force in a cruel way.

“For us, we only resort to diplomacy. We handle issues based on the Constitution, national and Asean principles . .  . US embassy officials are lawless and provocative,” he stressed.

Siphan’s stern remarks came two days after the US embassy criticised last year’s national elections as “deeply flawed”.

On its Facebook page, the embassy said the elections were neither free nor fair and did not represent the will of Cambodians.

In its statement, the embassy also called for the dropping of all charges against the former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Kem Sokha, who has been placed on court supervised bail on charges of treason.

Siphan noted that the absence of a US ambassador to Cambodia had caused difficulties in communications between the two countries.

He said the embassy’s latest criticism constituted an incitement and a violation of Cambodian sovereignty.

He warned that Cambodia would not be reluctant to “destroy” any groups found to undermine peace, stability and [public] order in the Kingdom.

“[Cambodia’s] friends should not be trying to sabotage the rights, freedom and democracy here. We request [those friends] to consider Cambodia their younger sister who has just reached adulthood. Don’t bother us, we don’t allow anyone to violate us.”

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin on Thursday said the US’ appeal for the dropping of the treason charge against Sokha, which it deemed politically motivated, would not hold sway.

“The court is an independent body. No group or institution or diplomat can order the court of this sovereign state to release or drop any charges. It’s impossible,” he said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation also took issue with the US on Wednesday.

In a statement, the ministry said it was deeply disappointed that the US had politicised the national elections, which it said was legitimate and represented the will of the people.

“It is with great surprise and disappointment to note another undiplomatic and disrespectful behaviour of the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh toward Cambodia as the host country.

“Through its official Facebook post on July 30, the embassy spread misrepresented comments, openly attacking the integrity of Cambodia’s general elections in 2018.

“Such a flagrantly offensive move in violation of the provisions of the UN Charter and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is least expected from the mission representing a civilised country.”

As of press time, the US Embassy in Cambodia did not respond to The Post’s requests for comment.

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