The president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Gabriela Cuevas Barron, has refuted a claim by the National Assembly that she “highly appreciated the achievements of Cambodia” in its July national elections with a tweet saying “Of course not!” before adding “No congratulations”.
A delegation from the Kingdom led by second vice-president of the National Assembly Khuon Sodary attended the 139th IPU General Assembly held from Sunday to Thursday in Geneva under the theme, Parliamentary leadership in promoting peace and development in the age of innovation and technological change.
The delegation was questioned on “human rights violations” and pushed to discuss the issue with IPU officials in Cambodia with the government, opposition parties and “people in jail”.
The National Assembly hit back by saying the human rights situation in the Kingdom had been distorted by “outsiders and ill-intentioned” people in a bid to harm Cambodia.
In her speech to an IPU plenary session on Wednesday, Sodary said in Cambodia, many political parties are carrying out their activities in accordance with the Constitution and the principles of multiparty democracy. She said there cannot be peace and stability without development.
“Cambodia strongly respects multi-party democracy with free and fair elections which permit the people to choose their leaders. We are a sovereign and independent state with complete territorial integrity under the law. In short, Cambodia is a ‘rule of law’ country,” she said.
In a separate meeting with IPU president Cuevas Barron on Tuesday, according to a National Assembly statement released on Wednesday, Sodary said that the national elections this year were conducted “correctly and fairly”, with some observers hailing the “democratisation and general stability of Cambodia”.
“HE Khuon Sodary explained more about Cambodia’s human rights situation, which a small group of outsiders and biased people with bad intentions have misrepresented the true picture of."
“[These people did so] in order to mislead the international community to harm Cambodia [which is] experiencing consistent development with a seven per cent annual growth rate,” the statement said.
The National Assembly went on to say that IPU president “Gabriela Cueva Barron agreed with the state-ment of Khuon Sodary and highly appreciated the achievements of Cambodia”.
Local news reported that Cuevas Barron fully congratulated Cambodia on the successes of the July 29 national elections.
But writing on Twitter on Wednesday evening, Cuevas Barron rejected the claim, saying “Of course not!”
She claimed that in the meeting with Khuon Sodary she had requested an IPU delegation meet with the Cambodian government, opposition parties and “people in jail’ to answer questions about alleged human rights violations.
“Of course not!” she wrote. “Thanks for asking. 1. [We] asked them to allow a mission from @IPU parliament to speak with the [government] and also to go and see opposition parties and people in jail. 2. I questioned about the cases of human rights violations that we documented at IPU. 3. No congratulations.”
‘Should not involve itself’
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan declined to comment when requested by The Post on whether the Cambodian government would grant the IPU request and allow a mission to visit Cambodia, but he did say that Cambodia has the right to accept or refuse it.
“First, the IPU is the parliamentary institution and as such is not a legislative institution. So it should not involve itself with government officials from the legislative."
“Secondly, Cambodia is a sovereign state and a member of the IPU, so we have the freedom to accept their request or not,” he said.