Cambodians head to the polls on Sunday to elect tens of thousands of commune chiefs and councilors and the election results may bring a surprise, as a new opposition party appears to be surging in popularity.
The ruling Cambodian People’s Party, or CPP, in power since 1979, has tightened its stranglehold on politics since 2017, when it forcibly banned its only real opponent. The European Union partially removed Cambodia’s trade privileges as a result. Relations with the United States have soured and are at an almost historic low.
Human rights groups warn that Sunday’s election could be fraught with irregularities. “We are disturbed by the pattern of threats, intimidation and obstruction targeting opposition candidates,” UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Liz Throssell said in a statement.