Leading dissident Sam Rainsy on Tuesday called for the postponement of July’s scheduled elections. He spoke upon his return from talks in Bangkok with deposed first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
“Having a date out of the blue, the 26th July, is ridiculous if we don’t ensure that the appropriate, adequate, relevant preparations are being made in the meantime,” Sam Rainsy told reporters shortly after his arrival.
“The 26th July, the date set by Hun Sen, is not realistic. We have come to the conclusion that elections must definitely, absolutely, be held this year, imperatively, but not necessarily on 26th July,” he said.
He said the prince backs his proposal for a postponement. Sam Rainsy suggested polls be held in October or November, adding that present conditions are not conducive to free and fair elections.
“[July polls] would be just elections for the sake of elections. If you want [that], you can hold such an election tomorrow—why wait until 26th July?”
Sam Rainsy cited recent political violence and legal shortcomings, such as the failure of the government to form the Constitutional Council, as justifications for postponement. The council is the supreme body charged with ruling on electoral disputes.
Rainsy revealed details of the election strategy formulated by the National United Front, the four-party opposition alliance of which he and the prince are co-presidents.
“We are determined to stand together, to consolidate, to strengthen the National United Front, and we share the analysis of the current situation,” he said.
Members of the alliance consider themselves to be anti-Hun Sen rather than anti-CPP. Hun Sen is the vice president of the CPP.
“Our strategy is to attack Hun Sen alone as an individual…We are prepared to make a coalition government with the CPP…with only one condition—no Hun Sen,” he said.