National Election Committee 14 May announced that twenty political parties had registered ahead of 29 July general election. Govt 24 May said that organising election boycott violates electoral law and will lead to prosecution. Committee on Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, an independent vote monitor, 15 May announced it would not deploy observers to polls for general election. UN Special Rapporteur to Cambodia Rhona Smith 30 April issued statement calling for release of detained leaders of Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), which govt dissolved in Nov 2017; also called for end to crackdown on political opposition and for CNRP to be reinstated, and for country’s rulers to return to “constitutional path of multi-party democracy and genuine elections”. UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention late April called for former CNRP leader Kem Sokha, arrested Sept 2017, to be released from prison.
The violent border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia earlier this year have challenged the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to turn its rhetoric into action, but to achieve peace and security more robust diplomacy is required to end a still unresolved conflict.
Almost a decade after the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements, Cambodia is at peace and the government is at last secure enough to contemplate the trials of some Khmer Rouge leaders.
The international community collectively heaved a sigh of relief when Cambodia’s rival factions moved back from the brink of disaster and agreed to form a fresh coalition government in November 1998 after weeks of violent protests and political deadlock.
Cambodia’s electoral process re-lit the candle of democracy that had first flickered into flame with the restoration of peace in 1991, after more than two decades of strife.
Cambodia is set to take to the polls in barely six weeks time, with some fearing the elections will cement in place a de facto dictatorship and others seeing them as the last chance to ensure that the country’s fledgling democratic process remains on track.
Originally published in The Jakarta Post