Cambodia’s election – Liars and deniers

from The Economist..

June 15, 2013 | Phnom Penh | From the print edition

Hun Sen does not care about winning prettily.

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IN A country with a history of political violence, it appears that actual bloodshed has been limited. But otherwise the campaign for Cambodia’s general election on July 28th is as ugly as ever. The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will win again, shoring up the rule of one of Asia’s longest-serving strongmen, Hun Sen, prime minister since 1985. But the CPP’s majority may be cut and Mr Hun Sen and his party seem rather het up.

On June 9th the CPP backed a 30,000-strong march across the country in protest at comments by Kem Sokha, a leader of the main opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP).


That rally changed the tone of the election campaign. The government, which seems increasingly paranoid, enforced a rarely used law intended to curb “party hopping”—ie, post-election defections by candidates of the losing party. The law restricts MPs to membership of one political party only.

A committee of CPP lawmakers then stripped CNRP politicians of their salaries and parliamentary rights because they were originally elected for two other parties, which later merged. America said the move “starkly contradicts the spirit of a healthy democratic process.” The CPP government responded in traditional fashion, accusing foreigners of interfering in Cambodia’s affairs. It seems more worried about the outcome of next month’s election than the niceties of the democratic process.

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