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.
“In the present circumstances, only such a boycott can help bring about a democratic change and help us gain the freedom and justice we have been longing for,” Sam Rainsy said in a weekend Facebook post.
Sam Rainsy’s CNRP was the only opposition party in parliament until its lawmakers were ousted by a November court ruling that it had engaged in treasonous activities. Sam Rainsy has been in self-imposed exile for more than two years to avoid a prison term in what he says is a politically motivated case. The party’s co-leader, Kem Sokha, is in jail awaiting trial on the treason allegation, which he also has decried as a political move.