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.
“It’s the first time the Senate election will be held without the main opposition, without competition,” said Koul Panha of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, an election watchdog.
About 5,007 CNRP commune councillors, or 44 percent of the 11,572 eligible to vote, had been stripped of their voting rights, he added. “It’s neither democratic nor free and fair.”
Only three small political parties are contesting the vote, apart from the CPP.