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Cambodia Elections: Nation to vote with no space for dissent

The de facto leader in the form of Hun Sen was installed by Vietnamese support in 1979.


Devdiscourse News Desk Mohit Pandey 28 Jul 2018, 11:53 PM Cambodia
  • A contrast can be seen in this year’s election. Previously, the rallies of opposition parties used to pull out crowds while this year, conditions reveal the fact that only rallies by the ruling party have become the source of crowd. (Image Credit: Twitter)

Cambodians are all set to witness general elections. The polling stations in the country have received all the documents and materials related or required for elections. The National Election commission, responsible for election, confirmed this in a press release.

The posters of campaigns covering the building walls in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh are the only visible signs of the election in the country.

For almost 23,000 polling stations in Cambodia, the materials required for elections are being transported by different means using cars, bike, boats, helicopters and even elephant depending upon the geographical condition of the place.

20 parties would be competing in the election and the whole process will be under observance of 220 observers from 52 countries.

A contrast can be seen in this year’s election. Previously, the rallies of opposition parties used to pull out crowds while this year, conditions reveal the fact that only rallies by the ruling party have become the source of crowd.

The de facto leader in the form of Hun Sen was installed by Vietnamese support in 1979. He launched a coup in 1997, deposed the first prime minister and was re-elected the very next year as the prime minister of the country.

The main controversy which has questioned the Cambodian elections' authenticity is the dissolution of Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) by the Supreme Court, alleged of being controlled by the government itself.

The detention of main opposition leader Kem Sokha over charges of treason ensures no competition for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

The decision by Supreme Court appears more worrisome for the fact in the previous elections opposition led by Sohka won over 40 percent of votes.

Charges of being involved in ‘color revolution’ did the rest for the torment of opposition and Sohka finds himself captive being unable to impart any role in the election.

With oppositional condition dilapidated to that extent, democracy will require to redefine itself in Cambodia.

The victory for prime minister after getting dissenting voice throttled, looks almost certain.

In the meantime, the website of the National Committee is reported to have gone down leaving important information shrouded under mystery.

The basic priority of the election commission is to ensure that all the Cambodians eligible to vote must exercise their voting rights. 

Currently a little over 8 million Cambodians are eligible to vote with options almost limited to the incumbent party only.

On the other hand, the official mottos of the National Election Committee are ‘Independence, Neutrality, Truthfulness, Justice and Transparency but what about abiding by it?

The institutions have just played second fiddle to the government by not allowing themselves to checkmate the unbridled leadership.

The step by Cambodia to block international news agencies and denying them to have access to independent media websites adds salt to injury and democracy again seeks shelter in that case.

Prominent media agencies have been found complaining about not being allowed to reach government officials for comment or reaction.

Media also become the target point in Hun Sen's regime. Many radio stations and prominent newspaper are forced to close.

The west has criticized the way, Sen has run the government so far, with China offering all the support to the nation. Cambodia, under Chinese influence, gives a reason for the US to find out strategies for a world in which China's influence is greater than ever.

The 2018 election will be 6th National Assembly Election of Cambodia, however, a triumph for democracy appears highly unlikely.


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