Cambodia's opposition leader says international donors should not do "business as usual" with the aid-dependent government of long-time ruler Hun Sen unless he agrees to an independent probe into July's election.
Sam Rainsy is on a visit to Washington where he has been lobbying the Obama administration, lawmakers, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. His party is readying another mass protest next week to press its demand for an investigation into alleged irregularities it claims robbed it of victory.
The ruling party maintains the vote was fair and has steadfastly refused the opposition's demand, although independent observers identified serious problems with electoral rolls. Negotiations to broker a compromise have stalled, and parliament convened last month despite an opposition boycott, extending Hun Sen's 28-year rule.
"The international community, especially donor countries, should not do business as usual with the current Cambodian government," Sam Rainsy said, adding that it represented "half of the nation at best" and lacked legitimacy to sign off on long-term loans and commercial contracts.
Hun Sen has run Cambodia since 1985 with little tolerance for opposition and a reputation for ruthlessness. Yet his party fared unexpectedly poorly in the July vote and its majority narrowed in the 123-seat National Assembly. The opposition, running on a newly unified slate, boosted its number of elected lawmakers to 55, up from 29.
"This is an unprecedented situation in Cambodia because the political landscape has changed dramatically, the balance of power has changed dramatically. We are in a unique position to exert our influence to make our country move toward a more democratic system," Sam Rainsy said, ahead of a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.