Cambodians vote in elections without main opposition party

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Phnom Penh, July 29 (IANS) Voting began on Sunday morning in the Cambodian general elections, in which the country’s incumbent Prime Minister, Hun Sen, is running without the challenge of a main opposition.

The Prime Minister from the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) voted early morning in Takhmau in the Kandal province, 15 km from here.

He is essentially running unopposed after the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was banned in 2017 by the Supreme Court on charges of conspiring with foreigners to overthrow the government. Many of its top members were forced into exile.

The CNRP has called for a boycott of these elections.

Nineteen other candidates, mostly from small, recently formed parties, are contesting against Hun Sen, who has ruled the southeast Asian nation since 1985.

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A total of 8.3 million Cambodians will cast their votes for the 125 parliamentary seats, until 3 p.m.

International observers have been heavily critical of the elections, dismissing them as fraudulent and rigged by the CPP.

“This election is in reality the funeral ceremony for Cambodian democracy,” Asia Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch Phil Robertson tweeted.

The UN has also questioned the legitimacy of the elections, along with the US and the European Union, which withdrew aid to the National Election Committee of Cambodia and threatened to impose sanctions.

The Cambodian government has denied that there was any wrongdoing or unfairness, pointing to the number of candidates contesting the elections as well as the international observers sent to monitor.

The election is be the sixth since the first democratic vote organised by the UN in 1993, following peace agreements that had ended more than two decades of civil war between several Cambodian factions.

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