Hun Sen and the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won a recent landslide victory in the Southeast Asian country. After outlawing the main opposition party that challenged the ruling CPP, Hun Sen secured more than 80 per cent of the popular vote and well over 100 of the 125 contested seats in the National Assembly. Despite calls to boycott the election, voter turnout was around 82 per cent, or about 6.88 million people. The response from the international community has been split. Australia, Canada, the European Union and the United States have expressed “profound disappointment” with the lack of opposition participation. Regional countries and populist European leaders, on the other hand, have endorsed the result.
Cambodia: How the Cambodian Government Is Trying to Chill the Push for Fair Elections | Pacific Standard
Cambodia’s ruling party declared victory following the July 29th national election. Headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled the country for more than three decades, the Cambodian People’s Party announced that it will now hold all 125 seats in the country’s national assembly. That the CPP would win handily was a foregone conclusion. The ruling party’s only real competition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, had been dissolved last November, while its leader, Kem Sokha, was imprisoned on flimsily concocted “treason” charges. To top that off, in the months leading up to the vote, the government executed an unprecedented crackdown on independent media and civil society groups, severely restricting the space for free expression and competition.
Two minor political parties have refused to accept the results of the Kingdom’s July 29 national elections. One has filed a complaint with the Constitutional Council demanding a recount, while the other has warned that it will lead demonstrations. A National Election Committee (NEC) official said while the complaint was valid, it should not have been sent to the council, while the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman said the complaint went against the peoples’ will. While the NEC is slated to announce preliminary results later this week and official results on August 15, unofficial calculations have shown that the CPP will control all 125 seats in the National Assembly. Speaking on Sunday, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan urged opposition parties to learn “new strategies” before competing with his party.
On the streets of Phnom Penh, everyone is asking the same question: did you or didn’t you vote? But the answer is obvious. Those who voted in Sunday’s problematic general election sport dark brown ink stains on their index fingers. Those with ‘clean fingers’, by contrast, appear to have backed exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s call for an election boycott. Cambodia’s July 29 elections were fought not along conventional party lines, but around the single issue of turnout. At least 25 countries have made use of semi-permanent election ink, ostensibly to curtail fraudulent voting. The ink is supposed to stop people from voting more than once. In Cambodia, election ink has assumed a new significance: its purpose was to maximize voter turnout, by putting pressure on citizens to participate in an election that many of them viewed as farcical.
One Cambodian voter defaced his or her ballot with a lively reference to a dog’s anatomy. Others ticked every single box, or crossed out the entire ballot. Still others drew pictures of the sun, the symbol of the outlawed main opposition party. After Sunday’s general election, which was roundly condemned as a sham by Western governments and human rights groups, Cambodia is all but officially a one-party state. The Cambodian People’s Party of Hun Sen, the longtime prime minister, claims it captured every one of the 125 seats in Parliament. But the second-largest number of votes went to a surprising beneficiary: no one. Around 600,000 Cambodian voters, or 8.6 percent of the electorate, cast inadmissible ballots, according to the National Election Committee.
Cambodians went to the polls last weekend, but it was a sham of an election, dominated by Hun Sen, the country’s aging autocrat. With the opposition party banned and soldiers at polling booths to ensure the outcome went only one way, no credible organization signed off on the election’s validity—but quite a few fake organizations did. Election observation in authoritarian regimes is a relatively new phenomenon. Beginning in the late 1980s, the number of elections monitored by intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and sovereign states increased substantially. This brought increased criticism of the behavior of authoritarian regimes, which signaled their compliance to the norm of external observation in exchange for certain benefits, such as legitimacy, foreign direct investment, and membership in international organizations. This gave democracy promotion actors, which coordinated a majority of election-monitoring missions, newfound leverage over the behavior of authoritarian regimes. In the last decade, however, dictators have fought back.
Cambodia: Ruling party claims landslide victory in ‘sham election’, with strongman Hun Sen set to extend his 33-year rule | AFP
Cambodia’s ruling party claimed a landslide win in Sunday’s one-horse election, an expected outcome after the main opposition was banned, paving the way for its leader Hun Sen to prolong his 33 years in power. Hun Sen, who came to power in 1985 in a country still plagued by civil war, has cracked down on dissent in the run-up to the poll, pressuring civil society, independent media and his political opponents. CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said his party won an estimated 100 out of 125 parliamentary seats. “The CPP won 80 per cent of all the votes and we estimate we will win not less than 100 seats,” Sok Eysan said.
Cambodia’s exiled opposition leaders have launched the ‘clean finger’ campaign which calls for a boycott of the general election scheduled on July 29, 2018. Typically, an indelible ink is placed on the finger of voters on election day which means those who fail to vote, have a clean finger. Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the main opposition party, was disbanded by the Supreme Court on November 2017 after the ruling party accused it of conspiring with foreign powers in an attempt to topple the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Cambodia: ‘Democracy has died’: Cambodia’s exiled politicians call for election boycott | The Guardian
Over the past ten months, Ky Wandara’s life has, by his own account, been hell. As the former treasurer of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) for 20 years he had fought to bring the dictatorial three-decade rule of prime minister Hun Sen to an end. But in October, just weeks after Hun Sen began a crackdown which saw the CNRP leader, Kem Sokha, arrested for treason and the eventual dissolution of the party altogether, Ky Wandara was forced to flee to Thailand, along with over 100 CNRP members. He has no hope of returning home. The crackdown in Cambodia has intensified and in Sunday’s election, Hun Sen has no legitimate challengers. While over 20 parties will run in the election, they are either considered to be bogus (candidates include an ex-warlord and a woman who claims that spirits came to her in a dream and instructed her to run) or puppets for Hun Sen.
For the past month, the deputy village chief of a hamlet in rural Cambodia has had a singular focus. A member of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), the deputy chief says he has been instructed to press every adult in the hamlet to vote in Sunday’s national election. “Every day we are telling people of the achievements of the party, that they should be grateful and it’s an obligation to vote,” he wearily told Reuters in his home in Kampong Thom province, on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisals.
The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur to Cambodia Rhona Smith on Friday expressed concern over reports of voter intimidation in the lead up to a general election this month that has been widely derided as unfree and unfair amid an ongoing political crackdown in the country. In a statement posted to the Facebook page of the U.N’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Cambodia, Smith highlighted reports of government representatives stating that abstaining from voting was illegal and that fines would be imposed on people messaging about a boycott of the July 29 election. She also pointed to reports that local authorities have threatened to withhold public services from those who do not vote for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). “This only creates a climate of fear and confusion,” Smith said.
Cambodia: Election monitoring groups in Cambodia headed by Prime Minister’s son, ‘ambassador’ | Reuters
Three of the groups approved to monitor Cambodia’s election have close ties to Prime Minister Hun Sen, one headed by his son and the other two led by a man who was appointed by the Southeast Asian country’s strongman ruler as a “goodwill ambassador”. Cambodia heads to the polls on July 29 for an election criticized by the United Nations and Western countries as fundamentally flawed after the dissolution of the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and imprisonment of its leader, Kem Sokha, last year. The United States and the European Union responded to the crackdown by withdrawing financial support and monitors from the election, a step followed by independent local and international NGOs that had overseen previous elections.
Cambodia: Authorities Threaten to Withhold Public Services if Villagers Don’t Vote For Cambodia’s Ruling Party | RFA
Agents working for Cambodia’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) are threatening to end public services for indigenous residents of Mondulkiri province unless they vote for the party in an upcoming election marred by allegations of campaign violations and a ban on the opposition, according to sources. An ethnic Phnong resident of Pulu village, in Mondulkiri’s Bu Sra commune, told RFA’s Khmer Service on Tuesday that local authorities and agents of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC)—headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son, Hun Many—were compelling villagers to tick number 20 for the CPP on sample ballots ahead of the July 29 general election. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the resident said that authorities and UYFC agents told villagers local government officials would refuse to sign legal documents—including land titles, birth certificates, and family registers—for those who do not vote for the CPP on the sample ballots.
Cambodia’s election commission on Tuesday (Jul 17) described calls to boycott a controversial election on Jul 29 as a “crime” and said authorities were already pursuing charges against those who criticised the vote. Strongman leader Hun Sen is set to extend his 33-year grip on power in the upcoming election after supporting the dissolution of the main opposition group last year and turning up the heat on civil society and the media. In recent weeks, however, opposition figures – mostly those who left the country in the wake of a sweeping crackdown – have pushed back and called on voters to skip the poll in protest.
Cambodia ranks as one of the world’s most corrupt countries – but after an extensive forensic investigation, Al Jazeera found that corruption stretches far beyond the country’s borders, all the way to Australia. In 2016, the anti-corruption NGO, Global Witness, released a ground-breaking report exposing the widespread business interests of long-standing Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, his family and their cronies. Hun Sen’s family was shown to have links to more than 100 companies across all sectors of the economy including tourism, agriculture, mining, electricity and the media as well as affiliations with top international brands. The family’s combined wealth is estimated to be anywhere from $500m to $1bn.
Cambodia: Chinese hackers breach Cambodian government ahead of country’s general election | CyberScoop
In the run-up to Cambodia’s general election on July 29, a hacking group tied to China has been breaking into multiple organizations that share a connection to either the country’s main opposition party, voting process or human rights movement, according to new research and additional analysis provided by U.S. cybersecurity firm FireEye. The findings — made possible through a glaring operational security mistake where hackers left their attack servers exposed on the open internet — help illustrate how governments are leaning on cyber-espionage capabilities to learn about foreign elections. FireEye collected this intelligence by directly accessing the attack servers, which weren’t protected with a password. The firm was able to identify breaches through established lines of communication that existed between the servers and victims.
Cambodia: Security forces overstep neutrality rules in election campaign, rights group says | Reuters
Cambodia’s security forces are “actively campaigning” for the ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen ahead of a general election on July 29, in violation of a law requiring political neutrality, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday. Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for 33 years, wants to ensure victory after two close elections in 2013 and 2017 with a crackdown on his critics, spurring many rights groups and the main opposition to call the vote a sham. He is widely expected to win the election after the Supreme Court dissolved the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) last year, leaving no significant competitor for Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
Cyberattackers have been caught hacking key Cambodian government institutions in what is strongly believed to be a coordinated Chinese government attack ahead of elections set for this month, a U.S. cybersecurity firm has alleged. Cambodia’s National Election Committee, Senate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, and Ministry of Economy and Finance have all been breached, along with computer systems of foreign diplomats, media institutions and opposition figures, an investigation by FireEye Inc. concluded. “We expect this activity to provide the Chinese government with widespread visibility into Cambodian elections and government operations,” the firm said in a report issued Tuesday. “Additionally, this group is clearly able to run several large-scale intrusions concurrently across a wide range of victim types.”
Cambodian political parties began a three-week election campaign period on Saturday that saw Prime Minister Hun Sen make pledges to conduct reforms. The campaigning got underway in the absence of the country’s main opposition party, which was banned by the Supreme Court late last year and will not be able to field any candidates to contest seats in the July 29 election. Speaking to thousands of supporters in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen, the leader of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, vowed to end political divides in the country and use development to bring Cambodians out of poverty.
Cambodia: Cambodia claims its election will be fair. Civil society says otherwise | Asian Correspondent
Liberal, pluralistic, democratic, peaceful, free, fair, and non-violent. These were the words used by a Cambodian state-affiliated press office to describe how the government will conduct the general election scheduled to take place on July 29, 2018. Campaigning starts on July 7. A video produced by the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers even boasted that the upcoming election “could be considered one of the best Election (sic) in Cambodia’s history.” The video was likely intended to address the criticism from local and global civil society groups with respect to the deteriorating state of democracy in Cambodia. The Cambodian People’s Party has been in power for 33 years under the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is considered to be Southeast Asia’s longest-serving head of state.
While 20 different political parties will vie for votes at Cambodia’s national elections on July 29, the contest will be by any honest measure a one-horse race. Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), now in power for more than 33 consecutive years, eliminated the only serious competition ahead of the polls but will be hard-pressed to portray the elections as a legitimate expression of the popular will. The 19 other parties contesting the elections are seen by many as either proxies set up by the ruling party in an attempt to give the election a veneer of legitimacy, or too small and with too few followers to carry any seats.
The National Election Committee has warned civil society organisations that intend to deploy observers to monitor the election on July 29 without being registered that they will face the law. The NEC issued a statement on Saturday informing all its Phnom Penh and 24 provincial election committees to closely monitor election watchdog Comfel for training its volunteers to monitor the election on July 29, noting that the NGO was infringing on the Law on Political Parties, election law and law on NGOs and associations.
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday slammed a call by a former leader of the now-dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) for voters to boycott the country’s upcoming general ballot, saying that it was a violation of electoral law. Earlier, former CNRP President Sam Rainsy, who is living in self-imposed exile to avoid a string of convictions widely seen as politically motivated, reiterated a call he made last week, urging Cambodia’s voters to boycott the July 29 elections if the party is not allowed to participate. In a four-minute video posted on his Facebook page on Friday, Sam Rainsy said that the CNRP, which was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November for its alleged role in a plot to topple Hun Sen’s government, is the only party fighting for democratic change in Cambodia, and that CNRP supporters and activists should stay away from the polls to refrain from legitimizing the election.
Registration began Monday for political parties contesting Cambodia’s upcoming general election, with Prime Minister Hun Sen dismissing calls for a boycott by opposition supporters whose party was dissolved by pro-government courts last year. Hun Sen said in a speech to school graduates on Monday that the July 29 election will proceed as planned and will not be obstructed by any individuals or groups. Sam Rainsy, the self-exiled leader of what was the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, reiterated his group’s position that voters should not cast their ballots if his party is not allowed to contest the election.
Cambodia’s former opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, called on Sunday for Cambodians to boycott a general election set for July 29 if his dissolved party isn’t allowed to take part. The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was dissolved by the Supreme Court last November at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government, which alleged it was plotting to take power with the help of the United States. The CNRP and the United States have denied the allegations, which followed the arrest of current party leader Kem Sokha on treason charges over the alleged plot. He has denied the charges and called them a ploy to help Hun Sen win re-election.
Cambodia’s ruling party swept the country’s Senate elections on Sunday, winning every seat in the legislature’s upper chamber in an all-but-predetermined contest that observers and analysts say is the latest symptom of the faltering political health of the southeast Asian country. Preliminary results from Sunday’s poll showed the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) claimed all 58 elected seats in the Senate, according to the National Election Committee (NEC), further entrenching the dominance of the CPP and Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia since 1985. The poll’s result demonstrates that the “death knell for democracy” in Cambodia is “ringing very loud and clear,” Mu Sochua, who was deputy president of the former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), told TIME in an email. Sochua, who has lived in exile since fleeing Cambodia in October under threat of arrest, called on the international community to “speak and act with one voice” to prevent Cambodia’s reversion to a “one-party state.”
The European Union threatened Cambodia with economic sanctions on Monday after the country’s ruling party said it had won every seat in a Senate election in which many opposition supporters were stripped of their right to vote. EU foreign ministers said in a statement they were considering “specific targeted measures” against Cambodia, which diplomats said was a warning to long-time Prime Minister Hun Sen that senior government officials could face sanctions. The bloc said it was also reviewing the preferential trade treatment it gives Cambodia because of what rights groups and opposition politicians say is a crackdown by the premier, in power for 30 years, ahead of a national election in July.
Cambodia’s ruling party said on Sunday it had won every seat up for election on the Senate in a ballot held after thousands of opposition lawmakers and local council leaders were stripped of their right to vote. Preliminary results published by Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) showed it had won 58 seats on the 62-seat Senate, leaving the other three political parties with nothing. Official results were not yet available, but two officials on the National Election Committee (NEC) confirmed the result published by the CPP, headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) of Hun Sen is poised to sweep a Senate election at the weekend, helping to consolidate the prime minister’s rule of more than 30 years amid a crackdown on the opposition. Sunday’s election for 58 members of the 62-strong Senate will see 123 members of parliament and 11,572 commune councilors vote at 33 polling stations across Cambodia. Two Senate members each are appointed by the king and the National Assembly. But rights groups and opposition politicians say the Senate vote is a farce that shows Hun Sen, who faces a national election in July, is not committed to multi-party democracy. Almost half of the commune councilors have been stripped of their right to vote in Sunday’s election after their opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was dissolved by a court last November at the request of Hun Sen’s government.
Exiled Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Wednesday raised the prospect of violence if this year’s general election is not postponed, prompting a government accusation of a threat to the state. Cambodian politics has been in turmoil since the dissolution of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) last year, following the arrest of its leader, Kem Sokha, on treason charges he says were politically motivated. Sam Rainsy, a former CNRP leader now living in exile in France, called for a postponement of the July election, at which Prime Minister Hun Sen is now expected to easily extend his 33 years in power.