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.
“In a democratic country, the election is very important, so the campaign against the election or to disrupt people from going to vote is a crime,” Tep Nytha, secretary general of the National Election Commission, told reporters.
He said authorities would take legal action against anyone involved in the boycott and some people who called in to “curse” election officials and use “bad words” against them were being targeted, but did not elaborate.