WASHINGTON — The United States on Friday slammed a ban on foreign
radio broadcasts by the Cambodian government in the run-up to next
month's elections as a "serious infringement" on press freedom.
Cambodian information ministry had published a directive banning
broadcasts of foreign-produced radio programs for 31 days before the
July 28 vote, State Department deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.
directive is a serious infringement on freedom of the press and freedom
of expression and starkly contradicts the spirit of a healthy
democratic process," he told reporters.
"We are deeply concerned by this action and urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to reconsider this decision."
Free Asia (RFA) reported Friday that their Khmer programs, as well as
those of Voice of America and Radio Australia, would be barred under the
Ventrell warned the Cambodian government's decision
cast doubt on the "intentions and the credibility of the electoral
process" even though Cambodian officials have publicly said they aimed
to have free and fair elections.
Official campaigning for next
month's general election, which is expected to be won by strongman Prime
Minister Hun Sen who is seeking to extend his 28-year grip on the
country, began on Thursday.
While all political parties are free
to canvass voters and hold public events, observers say there is little
chance of unseating the incumbent Hun Sen and his Cambodian People's
Party (CPP), which won the last two polls by a landslide despite
allegations of fraud and election irregularities.