The Paris Peace Agreements on Cambodia was signed 30 years ago. The deal was a major international achievement to end more than a decade of war in the country. It stipulated that the country must hold free, fair and competitive elections. The United Nations organised the first elections in the country in 1993. But the world decided too quickly that the job was done and forgot about Cambodia. The mandate of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) ended after the elections.
In subsequent years, the workings of the electoral system never fully satisfied neutral observers, and the National Election Committee appeared to come under the control of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). The system broke down completely in 2017, with the dissolution by the country’s supreme court by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).
This led in 2018 to elections that were plainly not free and fair as the ruling party faced no opposition and won all the national assembly seats. The leader of the CNRP, Kem Sokha, was to face trial on a charge of treason but this has been indefinitely postponed. The charge against him was used as a pretext for the dissolution of the CNRP. The fact that the charge against Kem Sokha remains unsubstantiated means there are no evidential grounds for the banning of the opposition, or the breaching of the Paris Peace Agreements.