Facebook page of Cambodia PM reactivated days out from election

Bangkok, Jul 20 (EFE).- The Facebook page of Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen was reactivated on Thursday, three days out from the country’s general election.

In a message published Thursday morning, Duong Dara, an assistant to the leader who manages the account, said he had decided to use the page “for social benefit,” although added that Hun Sen, who has 14 million followers, will not use it directly.

On June 30, the Cambodian PM announced the closure of his page hours after Meta’s independent Oversight Board ordered that he should be suspended for six months for a video post threatening violence against his political opponents.

In a livestreamed video in January he called on his political opponents to choose between the “legal system” and “a bat,” and threatened to send his supporters to beat up his critics.

Facebook kept the video on the platform, but the board found that Meta was “wrong” to apply a newsworthiness allowance in this case as the harm caused by hosting the content on the platform outweighed public interest value.

The Oversight Board overturned Meta’s decision to leave up the video and said that “given the severity of the violation, Hun Sen’s history of committing human rights violations and intimidating political opponents, as well as his strategic use of social media to amplify such threats, the Board calls on Meta to immediately suspend Hun Sen’s Facebook page and Instagram account for six months.”

Hun Sen then announced that he was closing his account and that he would continue his activity on other platforms such as Tiktok, Twitter and Telegram.

The Cambodian government described the board’s order as “political in nature” and against “freedom of the press,” announced the expulsion of any Facebook representatives from the country, and later declared the 22 members of the Meta Oversight Board “persona non grata.”

Hun Sen, in power since 1985 and with a long history of persecuting critical media and political opposition, has ruled the country virtually without opposition since 2018.

In 2017 the Supreme Court banned the main opposition party, paving the way for Hun Sen’s party to sweep all seats in parliament, while in May this year the National Election Committee barred the new main opposition Candlelight Party from running.

Hun Sen, 70, has governed the country since 1985 and is one of the world’s longest political leaders. He heads into Sunday’s general election to renew his mandate with no credible opposition. EFE


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