Government Invents Red Tape to Stop Opposition Registering for Election

The Cambodian government is making up new bureaucratic obstacles to try to prevent the risk of any real opposition party being able to contest national elections on July 23, 2023.

Between 2012 and 2017, a united democratic opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), posed a significant threat to the dictatorial regime of Prime Minister Hun Sen. The CNRP scored 44% of the vote in both of the two elections in which it took part, at national level in 2013 and locally in 2017. This was despite systematic electoral irregularities, and the administration of the elections by a National Election Committee (NEC) which was, and remains, under government control.

The CNRP was dissolved by order of Cambodia’s politically controlled supreme court in November 2017. This led to the electoral farce of 2018 when there was no real opposition party and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won every single seat in the national assembly. Dissolving the CNRP was not enough for Hun Sen: Kem Sokha, the leader of the CNRP when it was banned, is now cut off from the outside world under house detention in Phnom Penh, sentenced to 27 years on a bogus charge of treason for which no credible evidence was ever produced. While Kem Sokha is prevented from leaving the country, I, in my capacity as acting leader of the CNRP, am banned from setting foot in Cambodia after being sentenced to life in prison and getting personal physical threats from Hun Sen.

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