Hun Sen’s bogus election held on July 29 throws down the gauntlet to the international community to prove that democracy is possible in Cambodia.
The only party that could have defeated the government, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), had been banned after its excellent showing in the 2017 local elections. In the national vote, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party bribed and intimidated people to go and vote, inflated the published turnout when many refused, and then awarded itself all of the national assembly seats, 125 out of 125. For the first time in the 25 years since the elections organized by the United Nations in 1993, Cambodia lacks a legitimate government recognized by the international community. The country has returned to a dictatorship; even the pretense of political pluralism has gone.