Among observers at Cambodia’s national election on Sunday was former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who billed his trip as having the dual purpose of election observing and attending an “International Leadership Conference on Democracy, Peace, and Development.”
Cambodia’s 2023 election replicated that of 2018 in lacking a recognized opposition party, with opponents of Prime Minister Hun Sen this time urging voters to spoil their ballot papers to voice their dissent. The United States, the European Union, and Japan declined to send observers, while the banned opposition Candlelight Party claimed that vote counting by the country’s National Election Committee took place behind closed doors.
Jonathan, president of Nigeria from 2010 to 2015, is not entirely without democratic credentials. He stood down peacefully after his defeat in 2015, an outcome that Hun Sen has never been willing to contemplate. But his legacy is marred by allegations of corruption. Two oil majors, Italy’s Eni and Royal Dutch Shell, were accused of paying over $1 billion in bribes to members of his administration for rights to Nigeria’s OPL245 offshore oilfield as part of a 2011 agreement.