Campaigning is well underway in Cambodia with prospective MPs seeking to impress the voting public, and convoys of party faithful parading through the streets in near carnival fashion. Elections in Cambodia are noisy, colourful affairs but critics complain the elections are tilted sharply towards Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). The CPP has 90 seats in the 123-seat National Assembly. John Sifton from Human Rights Watch addressed the US Congress this week and said Cambodia is on a precipice. “Over 30 years since the mass crimes against humanity and genocide that occurred, the country’s civil and political situation remains highly problematic,” he said.
Mr Sifton said the problem is Hun Sen and the CPP’s control, which extends through nearly every facet of life in Cambodia. “One of the results of this situation is that Cambodia’s supposed democratic governance is not, in fact, democratic,” he said.
Phnom Penh shrugged off threats on Wednesday by some US lawmakers to cut US aid to Cambodia should the election not be free and fair. Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters the country’s future lay with the Cambodian people, not with US lawmakers.