Hun Sen critic in US Congress won't seek re-election

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on November 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on November 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

One of the loudest voices in Washington condemning Cambodia’s recent political crackdown has announced his intention not to seek reelection to the US House of Representatives.

Thirteen-term Republican California Representative Ed Royce, who also serves as the chairman for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced his decision earlier today.

“In this final year of my Foreign Affairs Committee chairmanship, I want to focus fully on urgent threats facing our nation, including: the brutal, corrupt and dangerous regimes in Pyongyang and Tehran, and Vladimir Putin’s continued efforts to weaponize information to fracture western democracies,” Royce said in his statement.

Royce has also been an outspoken critic of Hun Sen’s government, warning in August that there has been an “alarming degradation of democracy in Cambodia” in the lead-up to this year's elections. Following the November dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party – the country's only viable opposition party – Royce wrote that “Hun Sen and his thuggish regime have sadly achieved their goal of a one-party dictatorship”.

“It won’t be accepted,” he added.

In December, Royce and his committee heard testimony from witnesses to Cambodia's democratic backslide, including Kem Monovithya, the deputy director-general of public affairs for the CNRP and daughter of imprisoned party leader Kem Sokha.

During that hearing, Royce applauded the decision of US President Donald Trump's administration to issue visa restrictions against high-ranking ruling-party officials.

“I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on what additional measures we should take,” he said at the time.