Crackdown threats hang over Cambodia’s local elections

Prime Minister Hun Sen and the military warn of tough action against opponents.

Cambodians are bracing early for this year’s commune elections amid warnings from Prime Minister Hun Sen and the military of crackdowns against any attempt to “overthrow the elected government” and the continued prosecution of outlawed politicians and their supporters.

Crackdowns threaten to overshadow the June 5 polls, which should also provide an important bellwether as to how 19 political parties will perform against the long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) at the national ballot scheduled for July next year.

The first post-war, free and fair local elections were held across communes, which represent clusters of villages, in 2002 and were designed to complete the nation’s transition to a democracy. They were widely hailed as a success.

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