No glimmers of democratic hope allowed in Cambodia

PM Hun Sen threatening to ban opposition Candlelight Party ahead of 2023 elections in repressive redux of CNRP’s forced dissolution.

As Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) threatens to ban its latest opposition rival ahead of next year’s elections, the United States and European Union can be expected to toughen their existing sanctions on the nation’s democratic backsliding.

Western democracies imposed limited economic sanctions and other punitive measures against several Cambodian officials in response to the 2017 forced dissolution of the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on dubious legal grounds.

Despite new engagement this year and with US President Joe Biden visiting Phnom Penh for the first time next week for a regional summit, Cambodia’s long-ruling prime minister has escalated his rhetorical attacks on the newly-reformed Candlelight Party, which emerged as the largest rival group at June’s local elections.

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