Cambodia’s next election will be in July 2018, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Wednesday, as leaders of the opposition face legal charges they say are politically motivated to stop them challenging the veteran premier in the vote. Long before the Southeast Asian nation goes to the ballot box, political tension has risen. The last election in 2013 marked self-styled strongman Hun Sen’s toughest challenge in three decades of rule. The opposition, led by Hun Sen’s longtime foe Sam Rainsy, accused the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) of cheating its way to victory and boycotted parliament for a year.
Hun Sen said in a televised speech on Wednesday the next election would be held on July 22, 2018. “I hope there won’t be any reason to reject the election results then and make allegations that 1.2 million or 1.5 million votes are missing,” said Hun Sen, referring to accusations by Sam Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in 2013 that millions were missing from voter lists.
The CPP won the election with a greatly reduced majority and Hun Sen has since reshuffled his ageing cabinet.
Critics say Hun Sen is following a two-track strategy: trying to woo back CPP voters while using the judiciary to weaken the oppo