(Reuters) – Cambodia said on Tuesday Meta Platforms Inc’s 22-member oversight board was unwelcome in the country, days after the panel recommended suspending Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook account over content violations.
The board’s recommendation was “political in nature”, Cambodia’s foreign affairs ministry said.
Hun Sen’s Facebook account went offline last week after the Oversight Board, which is funded by Meta but operates independently, said the platform had been wrong not to remove a video he published in January that breached rules against violent threats.
Meta did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
“It intends to obstruct the freedom of the press for the citizens of Cambodia,” the ministry said of the board’s recommendation in a statement shared with the media.
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Hun Sen, one of the world’s longest-serving leaders with nearly four decades in power, last week declared ahead of his account suspension that he would switch to communicating with his people via Telegram.
The suspension comes ahead of a July 23 general election that critics have said will be a sham because of the government’s moves to stamp out all opposition.
The offending video was one where Hun Sen said those who accused his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) of buying votes in a 2022 local election should file a legal case, or face a beating from CPP’s supporters.
One Oversight Board member, veteran Indonesian journalist Endy Bayuni, said he was not aware if any colleagues were in Cambodia or had to leave.
(Reporting by Reuters staff; Additional reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor, Fanny Potkin; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Devika Syamnath)
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