Opposition leader Sam Rainsy is
expected to return to Cambodia on Friday, but
he will so far not be allowed to run for office in the July 28 elections.
Analysts say that could hurt the chances of the elections being declared free
and fair, which could trigger greater pressure for a decrease in US aid to
“Pardoning Sam Rainsy and allowing
him to return to Cambodia unmolested may take some of the pressure off of Hun Sen,
but it will be difficult, at best, for Rainsy to participate in this election
meaningfully, if at all,” said Zachary Dubel, a researcher at the Stimson
Center, in Washington. “So the overall effect his return might have on the
likelihood of aid being cut may be minimal at present.”
The last time the US government suspended aid to Cambodia was following the
1997 coup, when the Cambodian People’s Party overthrew a power-sharing
arrangement with the royalist Funcinpec. Full aid did not resume until 2007.
“So it’s not an unprecedented action for the US to take,” Dubel said.
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