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>> After their party was dissolved by Cambodia's highest court last week, elected officials from the only group that could challenge Prime Minister Hun Sen began handing over their duties on Monday. It's a move that's sparked an international outcry, especially from the West, prompting the US to cut election funding and threaten more serious steps.
>> The US, along with other western countries, has spent billions of dollars over the years in trying to build up Cambodia as a liberal democracy. And the recent moves which have been taken place have really knocked that completely. They say without an opposition party, without a strong opposition party that's been outlawed by the government now, you can't have proper elections.
But there are also concerns over a crackdown on other critics of Prime Minister Hun Sen, of civil society groups, and of independent media too.>> As well as cutting election support, the US says it's considering a watch list for Cambodian officials implicated in abuses. But Hun Sen has the backing of another major player, allowing him to brush off western criticism.
>> China is now, by far, the biggest donor to Cambodia and it's also the biggest investor in Cambodia. And China's money doesn't come with the same conditions. It doesn't come with demands that you have to have free elections, that you have to have a free environment for people to be able to compete.
And that's key in freeing up the government and giving it greater leeway to be able to pursue what it wants to do and without the conditions that western countries impose that restrain it.>> As well as banning their political opponents, Sen's government has also thrown the National Rescue Party's leader, Kem Sokha, in jail.
They say he was planning to seize power with American help. But according to Sokha, his imprisonment is just a tool designed to allow Sen to extend more than 30 years in power when the country holds elections next year.