The Cambodian government has reversed a ban on foreign radio broadcasts in the run-up to next month’s elections that had drawn strong criticism from the US.

The directive had banned local FM radio stations from airing foreign-produced radio programs for 31 days before the July 28 vote.

US State Department deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the ban was a “serious infringement” on press freedom and urged Cambodia to reconsider the decision.

The information ministry backtracked, saying it had allowed local radio stations “to resume airing foreign-produced programs as usual” in a statement on Sunday.

Rights groups welcomed the ministry’s decision to withdraw the ban.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodia Center for Human Rights, said the move has avoided triggering public outrage ahead of the polls.

“Such a move would have undermined the legitimacy of the election,” hence the legitimacy of the next government,” he told AFP.