Hun Sen retains his tight grip on Cambodia, and freedoms can wait

Markus Karbaum says having decimated all credible opposition, the Cambodian strongman is a shoo-in for victory in the general election next week. Given the fear, resignation and indifference that prevail, he looks set to rule for as long as he likes.

The result of Cambodia’s parliamentary elections on July 29 is already fixed. After dissolving the popular opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) last November, Prime Minister Hun Sen is only competing against supernumerary challengers which are too weak to create even an illusion of competition.

Nevertheless, he is at the peak of his reign that, after all, has lasted since 1985. His success boils down to his almost uncontested monopolisation of physical force, framed by submissive partners in both domestic politics and international relations.

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