It’s a battle for democracy and inclusive development in Cambodia

Cambodia’s general elections are scheduled to be held in July this year.

Earlier this month, when a municipal court in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh found Opposition leader Kem Sokha guilty of treason and sentenced him to a 27-year prison sentence, the international community and global rights groups were quick to condemn the move.

The United States said it was “deeply troubled” by the conviction of the “respected leader”. “His trial, built on a fabricated conspiracy, was a miscarriage of justice,” U.S. Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy, said in a tweet. Terming the ruling “politically motivated”, Human Rights Watch, a New York-based global rights watchdog, said it was based on “bogus charges”. Amnesty International said in a statement: “The Cambodian justice system has once again shown its jaw-dropping lack of independence by convicting Kem Sokha on baseless, politically motivated charges. This verdict is an unmistakable warning to opposition groups months before national elections.”

Cambodia’s general elections are scheduled to be held in July this year. Incumbent Prime Minister Hun Sen, who will seek another term in the coming election, has remained in the position for nearly 40 years, earning the distinction of being one of the longest-serving leaders in the world. The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) currently holds all seats in parliament. With political opposition being wiped out, and little space for dissent, the regime will likely continue, according to Cambodian analysts.

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