Prime Minister Hun Sen hailed his “mission” to the United Nations General Assembly in New York a “success” on Monday as he returned to the Kingdom.
A former opposition senator, however, questioned what was really achieved, likening him to a “dictator” taking his seat at the body to deliver “rhetoric”.
Posting on his Facebook page on Monday, Hun Sen said a meeting with UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres in New York had led to three proposals, including a two-year extension to an agreement on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, which was due to expire late this year.
Delivering a report to the UN last week, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, was vocal in her criticism of the human rights situation in the Kingdom.
In a separate message on his return on Monday, Hun Sen said he considered his first official visit to the UN since the July 29 national elections a “success”.
However, the poll was previously dismissed as “neither free nor fair” by the US as the former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) had been dissolved by the Supreme Court and was unable to take part.
Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won all 125 seats in the National Assembly.
“Cambodia, my homeland, although I have been far away for a while, there is an eager desire to return to Cambodian territory, being full of hope."
“During a 17-hour flight, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell the people about my mission with a brief statement: ‘Success!’ I would like to thank all the people who always support me and who monitored all my actions at the United Nations this time.”
Hun Sen also thanked the “hundreds” of Cambodians living across the US and Canada who spent time and money to come to New York to meet him and hear about developments in the Kingdom.
“I will remember your laughs, your smiles . . . and I promise we will see each other again,” he said.
However, apart from supporters, Hun Sen was also greeted with protests by North American supporters of the former CNRP, who called on the international community not to recognise Hun Sen’s new government.
Former CNRP senator and chairman of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community, Thach Setha, questioned the effectiveness of Hun Sen’s visit in regards to how much support he had received from the international community.
“With this opportunity, how many countries that had been opposed to him have been swayed to support him? To fly to [the UN] just to read a 10 to 20-minute statement and return, it is not a “success ...” he wrote on Facebook.
Setha said the success or failure of Hun Sen’s visit to the UN would not be measured by rhetoric but actual results.
He cited the examples of dictators such as former Libyan and Iraqi presidents Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, who were able to take their seats at the UN when they were in power.
“Success is not dependant on sitting in Cambodia’s seat at the UN. Even some dictators who refused to let go of power still could sit in their seats over there . .. Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, et cetera, were they successful?”
As well as the agreement on the Office Of The High Commissioner For Human Rights, Hun Sen said he and Guterres had discussed cooperation with the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).
The prime minister said Cambodia would continue to pay for the salaries of Cambodian staff at the ECCC, in accordance with a UN request.
Cambodia would also continue to send peacekeepers as part of UN humanitarian missions, he said.
Hun Sen used his address to the UN General Assembly on Friday to defend the national elections. He said some of the negative assessments were a “serious insult” to the will of the Cambodian people and showed “the ambition to interfere” in Cambodia’s internal affairs.