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  1. PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Parliamentary seats held by Cambodia’s recently banned opposition party were reallocated on Thursday to smaller parties that had failed to win any seats in the last election, the National Election Committee said. The Supreme Court outlawed the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Nov. 16 at the request of authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government in a move that prompted a U.S. cut in election funding and EU threats of action. The CNRP was banned after its leader, Kem Sokha, was arrested for allegedly plotting treason with American help. He has rejected the accusations as a ploy to let Hun Sen keep his more than three-decade hold on power in next year’s election. The National Election Committee (NEC) said the 55 seats the CNRP won in the 2013 election were being shared among five other political parties. That did not include Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which already had a parliamentary majority with 68 seats. “The list of the reallocation will be submitted to the National Assembly,” the election body’s deputy secretary general, Som Sorida, told Reuters. The biggest winner is the royalist Funcinpec party of Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who was once Hun Sen’s main rival but is now aligned with the prime minister. Funcinpec will get 41 seats in parliament - a third of all the seats - despite winning less than 4 percent of the vote in 2013. Som Sorida said the League for Democracy Party and Anti-Poverty Party had been awarded 6 and 5 seats respectively, but they had refused to take them up so they would now need to go to another party in the national assembly. The Khmer National Party and Khmer Economic Development Party would get 2 seats and 1 seat respectively, Som Sorida said. Officials from the CNRP made no immediate comment on the redistribution of the seats. The court has banned 118 CNRP members from politics for five years, but many of its leaders are abroad. Editing by Matthew Tostevin source https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cambodia-politics/cambodian-oppositions-parliament-seats-reallocated-to-smaller-parties-after-ban-idUSKBN1DN0EU -- © Copyright Reuters 23/11
  2. The government will next month hold a Buddhist ceremony in Siem Reap province aimed at showing that Cambodia is a peaceful and stable country. Prime Minister Hun Sen announced plans for the event yesterday during a gathering with more than 13,000 factory workers in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district. “I want to tell all Cambodian people that the government will celebrate the biggest blessing ceremony for bringing good happiness for the kingdom of Cambodia at Angkor Wat temple on December 2 and 3,” he said. Mr Hun Sen said 5,000 monks would be offered food as part of the event. “I want to invite our citizens to visit and join the ceremony,” he said. “We want to show that Cambodia is not experiencing turbulence or war, but it is a peaceful, independent country, with political stability.” read more http://www.khmertimeskh.com/91822/ -- © Copyright Khmer Times 23/11
  3. PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday opened a $2 million tender to help clear unexploded bombs in Cambodia weeks after the government’s mine clearance agency said its U.S. funding had been stopped. Relations between Cambodia and the United States have spiraled downwards this year with the government accusing Americans of involvement in a plan by detained opposition leader Kem Sokha to bring down Prime Minister Hun Sen. Washington has rejected the accusations as baseless. Last week, it said it was cutting aid for next year’s election and would take further steps after the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was dissolved by the Supreme Court at the government’s request. The U.S. embassy said it was accepting applications for a $2 million one-year grant to survey and clear unexploded ordnance in eastern Cambodia, which suffered heavy U.S. bombing during the war in neighboring Vietnam. “The United States has supported humanitarian demining in Cambodia for over 20 years and is committed to addressing our war-time legacy,” Ambassador William Heidt said in a statement. “We are looking for the best national and international experts.” The size of the contract matches the amount which the government’s Cambodian Mine Action Centre said earlier this month had been cut from funding it received from the United States through Norwegian People’s Aid. “We welcome the commitment in taking part in addressing the legacy of the war,” said Huy Vannak, undersecretary of state at the Interior Ministry. China, now Cambodia’s closest ally, was quick to step in with an offer of help for demining soon afterwards. CRACKDOWN China is Cambodia’s biggest donor and investor and has played an ever more prominent role as Western countries have criticized a crackdown on the opposition, civil society groups and media ahead of next year’s election. Although it has not taken action, the European Union pointed out last week that Cambodia’s access to duty free access vital to its garment industry depended on respect for human rights. Hun Sen told garment workers on Wednesday that they would be the ones to suffer - not him - if the access was withdrawn. European Union countries accounted for about 40 percent of Cambodia’s exports in 2016. Most of that was clothing. “You must remember clearly that if there is any cut of buying orders, it’s all the fault of a group of people of the opposition party,” Hun Sen told garment workers in Phnom Penh. “Hun Sen won’t die but workers, you will die,” he said. The prime minister accused exiled opposition leaders of trying to get sanctions imposed. They have so far said they would not call for measures to curb trade because of the impact it could have on the livelihoods of an estimated 700,000 garment workers. Cambodia’s economy has proved largely immune to political turbulence. The World Bank said on Wednesday it expected the economy to grow 6.9 percent next year, compared with a projected 6.8 percent pace in 2017, despite risks including uncertainty over the election. Writing by Matthew Tostevin, Editing by William Maclean source https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cambodia-politics/us-renews-grant-for-clearing-bombs-in-cambodia-idUSKBN1DM0OB?il=0 -- © Copyright Reuters 23/11
  4. Kali Kotoski Cambodia’s economy is predicted to remain strong and resilient for the next two years, fueled by a shift to higher value-added manufacturing despite lingering concerns over political stability and the slowed growth of both the construction and garment sectors, the World Bank said today in its latest review of the Cambodian economy. The Kingdom’s robust GDP growth is expected to reach 6.9 percent in 2018 and remain almost as high at 6.7 percent in 2019, thanks to increased export diversification of footwear, electrical machinery and auto parts alongside healthy inflows of foreign direct investment, the World Bank said in its Cambodia Economic Update for October 2017. http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/cambodia-sustain-strong-growth-world-bank -- © Copyright Phenom Pen Post 22/11
  5. PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told garment workers on Wednesday that they would be the ones to suffer - not him - if the European Union withdrew preferential trade terms over the banning of the main opposition party. After the Supreme Court dissolved the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) last week at the government’s request, the European Union raised a potential threat to the tariff free access it grants most Cambodian exports. European Union countries accounted for about 40 percent of Cambodia’s exports in 2016. Most of that was clothing. “You must remember clearly that if there is any cut of buying orders, it’s all the fault of a group of people of the opposition party,” Hun Sen told garment workers in Phnom Penh. “Hun Sen won’t die but workers, you will die,” he said. The CNRP was banned after its leader, Kem Sokha, was arrested for alleged treason. The government says Kem Sokha sought to take power with American help. He rejects that allegation as politically motivated, to allow Hun Sen to extend his more than three decades in power in a general election next year. Hun Sen accused the opposition party, many of whose leaders are in exile, of trying to lobby against Cambodian trade. Leaders of the opposition party have said they would not call for measures to curb trade because of the impact it could have on the livelihoods of an estimated 700,000 garment workers. Sweden said on Tuesday it was stopping new aid for Cambodia, except in education and research, and would no longer support a reform program in the first concrete action by an EU country. The United States cut election funding and said it would take more punitive steps. But Cambodia’s economy has proved largely immune to political turbulence, recording annual growth of about 7 percent for the past six years. The World Bank said on Wednesday it expected the economy to grow 6.9 percent next year, compared with a projected 6.8 percent pace in 2017, despite risks including uncertainty over the election. Writing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Robert Birsel source https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cambodia-politics/cambodias-hun-sen-says-only-workers-will-suffer-from-any-sanctions-idUSKBN1DM0OB?il=0 -- © Copyright Reuters 22/11
  6. Angkor temples found

    The Ministry of Environment is exploring two ancient temples likely constructed during the early Angkor era in Ratanakkiri province. Lim Vanchan, the Ministry of Environment’s information, education and dissemination office deputy director, said the ministry recently explored the ancient sites, which include the Ou Preah and Yak Nang temples. Ou Preah temple, located in the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary, could have been built in the 10th or 11th century, he said. Constructed with laterite and brick pieces, facing east, it is located on the west bank of Srepok River. “We found two broken pedestals, each one with two holes on each side to set a statue. We also found jar fragments,” Mr Vanchan said. “According to ethnic minorities in the area, wine jars were richly valued items in the past, which were exchanged against cattle when a family member died.” “They then buried the body, placed the jar above its head, and planted a tree.” read more http://www.khmertimeskh.com/5091737/angkor-temples-found/ -- © Copyright Khmer Times 22/11
  7. Ruili Airlines, a Chinese low-cost airline based in Southwestern China’s Yunnan province, will start operating from Phnom Penh International Airport by the end of the year, with other Chinese and Malaysian air carriers following on its footsteps and starting to fly to the kingdom by the start of 2018. Amid government efforts to increase the number of Chinese tourists to the country, more Chinese airlines are showing an interest in the Cambodian market, adding new routes to their fights connecting the East Asian giant to the kingdom. Sichuan Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines are expected to start flying to Cambodia by the beginning of next year, while Malindo Air, a Malaysia-based budget airline, will join the market around the same time, according to Nuno Costa, marketing and sales director for Cambodia Airports, the company that manages the country’s three international airports. “We will finalise some other deals by next year, so there won’t be a lack of airlines in Cambodia; the market here is really booming,” Mr Costa said. Sin Chansereyvutha, spokesman for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said more airlines is always good news for Cambodia’s fledgling aviation market. “The new players in the market are good indication of the growth in the sector,” Mr Chansereyvutha said. “More competition means more options for travellers, who can travel with more competitive fares.” read more http://www.khmertimeskh.com/5091604/chinese-malaysian-airlines-land-local-market/ -- © Copyright Khmer Times 22/11
  8. Government officials will travel to recover ten ancient jewellery items from the United Kingdom after the antiques agent selling them agreed to offer them back. Prak Sunnara, director of the Ministry of Culture’s heritage department, said that officials from the ministry and from the Union of Youth Federation of Cambodia will fly to the UK soon to bring back the ancient items. Mr Sunnara said the items will be put on display at the National Museum for all to see after being lost for so many years. “I do not know when these items were lost, but they were made in the Angkor era,” he said. “The Cambodian government did not pay one cent for the recovery of these items. The antique sellers agreed to give them back to Cambodia.” On November 18, 2016, the Ministry of Culture got information that antique dealers Jonathan Tucker and Antonia Tozer of Asian Arts in London were selling many ancient items, including ten golden jewellery items made for decorating sculptures during the Angkor era. Once aware, the ministry, through the Cambodian Embassy in the UK, demanded the items back. Mr Tucker and Ms Tozer agreed to give them back to the Kingdom on April 20, 2017. read more http://www.khmertimeskh.com/91727/ -- © Copyright Khmer Times 22/11
  9. PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Sweden said on Tuesday it was stopping new aid for Cambodia, except in education and research, and would no longer support a reform programme after the main opposition party was outlawed by the Supreme Court at the government’s request. The announcement marked the first concrete action by a European Union country in protest at a political crackdown in which veteran Prime Minister Hun Sen’s main rival has also been arrested and civil rights groups and independent media attacked. The United States cut election funding and said it would take more punitive steps after last week’s ban on the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). The European Union has also threatened action. Sweden’s embassy in Phnom Penh said the country was reviewing its engagement with Cambodia. “We will not initiate any new government-to-government development cooperation agreements, except in the areas of education and research,” it said in a statement. As a consequence, it would be unable to support decentralisation reform in its current form. That reform aims to strengthen lower levels of government, such as local communes. The CNRP won control of more than 40 percent of the communes in elections in June, but has now had to give them up to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). The CNRP was banned after its leader, Kem Sokha, was arrested for alleged treason. The government says he sought to take power with American help. He rejects that allegation as politically motivated, to allow Hun Sen to extend his more than three decades in power in next year’s general election. Responding to the Swedish statement, a senior official said Cambodia welcomed friendship with Sweden or other countries, but said they must understand the CNRP had been banned because the courts found it had committed treason. “People should respect the Cambodian people’s decision in accordance with the principle of democracy and the rule of law,” said Huy Vannak, undersecretary of state at the Interior Ministry. Sweden, which has given Cambodia an estimated $100 million in aid over five years, ranked third among individual EU member states in Cambodia’s database of donors last year, after France and Germany. Swedish fashion group H&M is also a key buyer from Cambodia’s garment factories - the country’s main export earner. But Western donors have less sway than they once did since China has emerged as Cambodia’s biggest aid donor and investor. Meeting on Monday on the sidelines of a meeting of Asia-Europe foreign ministers in Myanmar, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Cambodian counterpart Prak Sokhon that China supported the government’s actions. China has repeatedly expressed its support for Cambodia, making no criticism of the government led by Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander, who is one of Beijing’s most important allies in Southeast Asia. (The story adds dropped word “after” in paragraph 1) Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Writing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Clarence Fernandez source https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cambodia-politics/sweden-stops-some-new-aid-for-cambodia-in-protest-over-crackdown-idUSKBN1DL18S -- © Copyright Reuters 22/11
  10. Mech Dara and Yesenia Amaro Even after a group of 60 Cambodian journalists thumbprinted an open letter calling for the release of two former Radio Free Asia reporters accused of “espionage”, some very high-profile voices remain conspicuously silent on the matter: those of the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) and the Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia (UJFC). Despite being the two main local bodies representing journalists, the organisations had no official response when Oun Chhin and Yeang Sothearin were detained last Tuesday, nor when they were provisionally charged over the weekend with providing “a foreign state with information which undermines national defence” – which carries a seven- to 15-year sentence. read more http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/local-journalism-organisations-silent-ex-rfa-pairs-case -- © Copyright Phenom Pen Post 21/11
  11. A married couple were convicted yesterday of running an illegal prostitution service employing under-age girls in their Phnom Penh massage parlour. They were each sentenced to seven years in prison. Nhem Sarom, 37, and his wife Thach Thang, 42, were the owners of the Cool Heart massage parlour in Sen Sok district. Judge Mong Monysorphea of Phnom Penh Municipal Court said the couple were charged with providing a prostitution service with aggravating circumstances, due to the age of some of the workers. The judge advised the couple to take their cases to the Appeal Court if they did not accept the verdict. Colonel Keo Thea of the anti-human trafficking police in Phnom Penh said the couple were arrested on March 20 after the shop was raided. read more http://www.khmertimeskh.com/5091456/couple-jailed-massage-shop-brothel/ -- © Copyright Khmer Times 21/11
  12. Two Nigerian men and a Cambodian woman were sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for allegedly smuggling more than two kilograms of ecstasy from Belgium to Cambodia. Lieutenant General Loeuk Vannak, chief of the Anti-Drug Department at the Ministry of Interior, identified the suspects as Onu Abel Michel, 39, Okeke Sabinus Chimankpa, 34, and Maes Veansa, 37. They were arrested last week at different locations in Phnom Penh. “They are drug ringleaders who have been hiding in the country,” Lt Gen Vannak said. “Our forces are now searching for other suspects with links to this case.” Sok Sarith, who works under Lt Gen Vannak, said police seized the drugs at Phnom Penh International Airport on November 15. The package was hidden in a shipment of a local transport company, and had been sent by air from Belgium. read more http://www.khmertimeskh.com/5091454/nigerians-cambodian-drugs-arrest/ -- © Copyright Khmer Times 21/11
  13. PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Elected officials of Cambodia’s banned opposition party have begun handing over their duties after a court ordered the party dissolved, the government said on Monday. The Supreme Court outlawed the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) last week at the request of authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government in a move that prompted the United States to cut election funding and threaten more punitive steps. The party was banned after its leader, Kem Sokha, was arrested for alleged treason. The government says he sought to take power with American help. He rejects that allegation as politically motivated, to allow Hun Sen to extend his more than three decades in power in next year’s general election. Among those told to give up their positions were councillors elected to communes in June, when the CNRP gained control of 40 percent of local councils, showing the electoral threat it posed to Hun Sen. “The implementation has been going smoothly,” the Interior Ministry’s spokesman, Khieu Sopheak, told Reuters on Monday, adding that he did not know how long handover completion would take. The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take over nearly all of the communes won by the opposition. The CNRP’s 55 seats in the 123-member parliament will be shared among six minor parties, the National Election Committee (NEC) said. It had been unable to contact one of the parties entitled to a seat because its headquarters was shut, it added. Three NEC members submitted a letter of resignation from the electoral body in protest at their party’s dissolution, saying the redistribution of seats to other parties was “unconstitutional” and against “voters’ will”. The court has also banned 118 CNRP party members from politics for five years. Mu Sochua, a senior CNRP member who moved abroad shortly before the ban, said party officials met over the weekend outside Cambodia “to put together an action plan for the immediate future.” “We reject the decision of the court,” she said, adding that Kem Sokha remained president and the party’s former leader, Sam Rainsy, had rejoined it. Sam Rainsy had resigned in February, saying he feared the party would be banned if he did not, because of defamation convictions that he calls politically motivated and which pushed him to flee Cambodia in 2015. Across Cambodia, police took down CNRP signs outside party offices and on the streets. The interior ministry spokesman said the CNRP had helped by taking down its Phnom Penh headquarters sign itself. Rejecting the criticism from the United States over the dissolution of the opposition party and a crackdown on local rights groups and independent media, Hun Sen said on Sunday that Washington should cut off all aid for Cambodia. Editing by Michael Perry and Clarence Fernandez source https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cambodia-politics/cambodias-opposition-gives-up-posts-after-ban-idUSKBN1DK0DY?il=0 -- © Copyright Reuters 21/11
  14. The Interior Ministry asked the National Treasury General Department to stop paying the CNRP’s commune councilors’ monthly salary after the party was dissolved on Thursday. In a letter sent to the National Treasury on Friday, the Interior Ministry’s Administration General Department stated that the CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court, and therefore their list of commune councilors is invalid. The ministry told the treasury to freeze the salaries of CNRP commune councilors as of November 10. Justice Ministry spokesman Kim Sentepheap said that the court’s verdict has already been put into effect. All lawmakers and commune councilors have been stripped of their positions and party memberships, and are not allowed to engage in political activities. There are 5,007 CNRP commune councilors and nearly 500 CNRP commune chiefs. He added that the CNRP was not allowed to publicly display its emblems, slogans or platform. read more http://www.khmertimeskh.com/5091073/cnrp-commune-councilors-salary-frozen/ -- © Copyright Khmer Times 20/11
  15. A passenger train rear-ended a cargo train in Kampot province yesterday, according to local police. No one was injured in the crash. Chief of staff of the district police Chhun Chhoeun said that the trains were going in the same direction when the accident occurred. “These two trains were going from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville when the passenger train rear-ended the other,” he said. Hong Sarann, Boeung Touk commune police chief, said that the accident was caused by the fact that the first train used its brakes abruptly and the second one could not control its speed. http://www.khmertimeskh.com/5091138/trains-collide-kampot-province/ -- © Copyright Khmer Times 20/11
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