Sunday’s election in Cambodia will not be free or fair, but will bring the country under even more authoritarianism, warned Norwegian People’s Aid.
Cambodia’s leader, Hun Sen, who has ruled the country for the past 33 years, has stamped the opposition as traitors and is assured re-election.
In November, the country’s Supreme Court dissolved the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), the only party that could have challenged the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
“This happened after a poll conducted by Hun Sen, which showed that CNRP was in a position to win the election,” said Advisor, Trygve Augestad in Norwegian People’s Aid.
He believes Cambodia during Hun Sen has moved in an increasingly authoritarian direction.
“The government has done everything it can to shut down criticism and has, inter alia, made sure to shut down independent newspapers and radio stations,” said Agestad.
“Civil society and human rights defenders are under attack and experiencing increased harassment, monitoring and threats,” he noted.
Organizations critical to the authorities have their offices monitored and searched, the phones are intercepted, and employees and members are harassed.
The world’s longest sitting parliament
The CPP has ruled Cambodia continuously since 1979 and with Hun Sen at the helm since 1985. This makes this the 65th anniversary of the world’s longest-running prime minister.
Over the years, he has gradually tightened his grip and consolidated his position by building a network of loyal supporters and family members.
This he has been able to do despite his past in the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot’s horror regime, which cost approximately a quarter of Cambodian inhabitant’s lives in the second half of the 1970s.
Warnings against election boycott
On Friday, there were warnings to the opposition not to carry out an election boycott, and threats of serious consequences.
“Opponents of the election destroy the nation and democracy, and should not be forgiven,” Said the leader.
Neither the United States nor the EU have wanted to send observers to Sunday’s elections, and are highly critical of developments in Cambodia.
Norwegian People’s Aid (Norsk Folkehjelp) hopes that the global community will step up pressure on Hun Sen and his regime after the election, and monitor the many human rights violations in the country.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today