Before the elections, Cambodia amends the law to ban

Arief Budi

Global Courant

PHNOM PENH – The Cambodian parliament on Friday voted unanimously to change an electoral law to punish anyone who boycotts next month’s poll, which critics say will be a sham because of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s attempts to crush all opposition.

Mr Hun Sen, who has been in power in Cambodia for more than three decades, last week ordered parliament to review the law so that anyone who does not vote in the July 23 general election would be barred from running in future elections.

“…Individuals wishing to stand for election must participate in voting events prior to their mandate,” Mr Sar Kheng, deputy prime minister and interior minister, said in a statement on his official Facebook page following the vote in parliament.

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“The amendments impose fines and penalties on individuals who disrupt and obstruct the voter registration process…(and) the election,” he added.

In the last election in 2018, Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won all seats in parliament, receiving 4.8 million votes out of 6.9 million votes cast.

There has been no open call for an election boycott, but critics have raised the alarm over what they see as a campaign of intimidation and public threats by Mr Hun Sen and the CPP ahead of an election they are sure to dominate.

“This really shows that this is a dictatorship in the democracy game,” said Mr. Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch, adding that “civil rights and political freedom have been completely, completely curtailed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and his government”.

Mr Hun Sen’s government has denied targeting opponents and says it is enforcing the law.

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The election commission said earlier this month that anyone who urges people not to vote will be fined or imprisoned.

The CPP will rule next month virtually unopposed after the election commission disqualified the only opposition Candlelight Party, citing improper paperwork. REUTERS

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Before the elections, Cambodia amends the law to ban

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