PM Extended Personal Invitation to ‘Shadow’ Election Monitors

A group accused of endorsing autocratic elections received a personal invitation from Prime Minister Hun Sen to monitor Sunday’s commune elections, an official from the organization said on Thursday.

“We received the invitation three weeks ago,” said Kitt Villanueva, a special assistant to Jose de Venecia, the founding chairman of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP). “ICAPP will be represented by special rapporteur Senator Mushahid Hassan Sa’ad of Pakistan and two other Philippine congresswomen.”

A letter obtained by The Cambodia Daily, which appears to be signed Mr. de Venecia, a former politician in the Philippines, details arrangements for the Phnom Penh monitoring mission.

“I have been invited to Cambodia by Prime Minister Hun Sen to observe the elections June 2-6 in my capacity as Chairman of ICAPP but I am unable to attend,” says the letter, dated June 1, which was addressed to ICAPP’s acting secretary-general, Jeon Jae-moon. “I have phoned Senator Mushahid who has agreed to proceed to Phnom Penh.”

“Thank God we have a good friend in Sen. Mushahid because Premier Hun Sen and late Deputy Premier Sok An are stalwarts of ICAPP,” it adds.

Mr. Sok An, who died in March, was previously vice chairman of the organization’s standing committee.

ICAPP did not respond to emailed questions about the the letter.

According to a study published in March by political scholars Maria Debre of the Berlin Graduate School of Transnational Studies and Lee Morgenbesser of Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, the CPP was a founding member of the organization, the likes of which “not only validate…flawed elections, but subvert the critical assessments of professional observation groups.”

Mr. Villanueva declined to comment on whether ICAPP could provide an unbiased assessment of the elections considering the role high-ranking CPP officials have played in the organization’s structure.

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