Hun Sen challenges EU, US to freeze overseas assets of Cambodian leaders

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said he has no money abroad and any actions by the EU and the US would not hurt him.

PHNOM PENH (REUTERS) - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen encouraged the United States and European Union on Friday (Dec 15) to freeze the assets of Cambodian leaders abroad in response to his government's crackdown on the opposition and civil society.

Mr Hun Sen, the strongman who has ruled Cambodia for more than three decades, has taken a strident anti-Western line ahead of a 2018 election and has dismissed donor criticism of the dissolution of the main opposition party.

The US and EU have suspended funding for next year's election and Washington has put visa curbs on some Cambodian leaders. There is no current proposal for asset freezes by either the US or EU, but some lawmakers have floated the idea.

"I encourage the European Union and United States to freeze the wealth of Cambodian leaders abroad," Mr Hun Sen told a group of athletes in Phnom Penh, the capital.

Mr Hun Sen said he has no money abroad and any actions by the EU and the US would not hurt him.

The US embassy made no comment. EU Ambassador George Edgar said on Friday there had been no decision on further measures by the bloc.

The Supreme Court dissolved the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) last month at the request of the government, on the grounds it was plotting to seize power.

Mr Hun Sen accused Mr Kem Sokha, the leader of the CNRP, of a US-backed anti-government plot. The opposition leader and the US denied that.

China, Cambodia's largest aid donor, has lent its support to Mr Hun Sen, saying it respects Cambodia's right to defend its national security.

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