Cambodia general Election: Hun Sen Tightens Grip

Cambodia general Election: Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodia’s longtime leader, is preparing for another one-sided election in a tightly controlled electoral landscape to extend his decades-long rule. Cambodia’s seventh general election should favor the ruling CPP.

Hun Sen, 70, is one of the longest-serving leaders. Only Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea’s dictators have ruled longer.

Due to crackdowns on opposition figures, the CPP ran unopposed. Mu Sochua, the former Minister of Women and Veterans’ Affairs who fled abroad, said, “Hun Sen will never give up his power,” citing the leader’s ruthless policies to eliminate political opponents and critics to ensure his eldest son’s power succession.

The Khmer Rouge’s genocide marred Cambodia’s history. Poverty and corruption, despite the Angkor temples, cause intergenerational trauma.

Cambodia’s elections initially allowed opposition parties. Hun Sen’s regime has become more autocratic, imprisoning critics and forcing many to flee. He’s close to China and criticizes Western governments for supporting Cambodia’s political opposition.

Cambodia’s democracy lacks free elections, media, and civil society. The CPP claims multiparty democracy with 17 small political parties. Rights groups and political observers say arrests, banishments, and elimination have silenced meaningful opposition parties and figures.

After this election, political analysts expect Hun Manet, Hun Sen’s son, to rise. Hun Manet, a 45-year-old Cambodian army officer, graduated from top universities. His father publicly called Hun Manet a “future prime minister.”

Hun Manet’s first election. Critics say Hun Sen’s corruption and nepotism make it hard for him to gain legitimacy.

Cambodia general Election

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Opposition leaders like Sam Rainsy have urged Cambodians to spoil their votes. Cambodian authorities warn against such actions, citing potential consequences for non-CPP supporters.

After the CNRP won over 40% of the vote in 2013, the political crackdown intensified. In 2017, the top court banned the CNRP and imprisoned or exiled its leaders.

This year’s election followed a similar pattern, with Cambodia’s national election committee banning the Candlelight Party, the last remnant of the CNRP and the only potential challenge to the CPP, due to paperwork issues.

Human rights groups have condemned Cambodia’s pre-election harassment and arrests of opposition members. The government is accused of using trumped-up charges to silence dissent.

Cambodians vote with apathy and fear due to limited political options and apparent democracy curtailment. Because the election’s outcome is predetermined, it’s questioned.

Finally, Prime Minister Hun Sen and the CPP are expected to win Cambodia’s upcoming election, extending his rule. Lack of competition and opposition suppression cast doubt on Cambodia’s democracy and election legitimacy.

 

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