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Cambodian elections a choice between strongman or boycott

BANGKOK – Cambodians voting in the general election on Sunday will have nominally 20 parties, but in reality only two serious options: extension of 33 years in power of Prime Minister Hun Sen

The Key factor that virtually guarantees a walk through the party of Hun Sen is the elimination of any credible opposition that was carried out last November, when the Supreme Court declared the Cambodian National Rescue Group a prisoner action was sponsored by the United States. The far-fetched claim does not seem to be supported by any evidence.

The court ordered the dissolution of the party and forbade its leaders to hold office for five years and expel its members from their election positions. One party leader was already in exile and the other in jail awaiting trial for high treason.

Along with the crackdown on political opposition, the Hun Sen government silenced critical voices in the media, shut down about 30 radio stations, and desecrated two language newspapers that provided independent coverage. A law was passed that imposed heavy burdens on courageous and dynamic civil society organizations.

With the control of the legislature and the bureaucracy as well as the influence on the judiciary, there is no control over the administration of the Hun Sen. [1

9659009] "Cambodia's election is a mock trial that extends the authoritarian rule of Hun Sen and the country in further misery and oppression will plunge, "said Debbie Stothard, secretary-general of the International Human Rights Organization in Paris.

The leaders of the now defunct opposition party, most of whom have fled into exile to avoid arbitrary arrest, have called for a boycott of the elections.

"If you vote on July 29, 2018, you play the dirty game of a group of traitors, led by Hun Sen, who kills democracy and sells our land," wrote Sam Rainsy, the popular, self-exiled former leader the CNRP, earlier on his Facebook page th. "To boycott this false and dangerous election means to uphold our ideals by remaining loyal to our people and determined to help in our motherland."

Ironically, a practice of combating electoral fraud – by dipping one's finger into indelible ink – is making Cambodians who fail to veto their votes on officials who want to see and punish opposition supporters.

The opposition-sponsored "Clean Finger" campaign is a form of political mobilization, Mu Sochua said Legislator and Vice President of the CNRP

In her opinion, it is a political gesture not to pick a finger in indelible ink to dive: "That little finger I have that every one of you has is a symbol of what we stand for, what you want, democracy, freedom, freedom, justice."

Officials advocating for calling for a boycott are illegal, have made several arrests, but the opposition has effectively used social media to publicize their c.

Nineteen small parties registered to challenge Hun Sens Cambodian People's Party, but almost all are vanity issues or vehicles that serve as window dressing to give the illusion of a democratic choice.

Hun Sen has always ruled with a carefully modulated reprisal that wavered between violence and reconciliation, but slipping into a more authoritarian reign was sparked by the recent parliamentary elections in 2013, when the opposition won CNRP 55 seats in the National Assembly – a win of 26 seats while Hun Sen's party 22. The race was close enough that the opposition claimed they had won, with the exception of manipulating the voter registration process.

In local elections last year, the CNRP showed a similar dramatic upward trend.

The Results It was alarming news for Hun Sen, 65, who insists he will serve for another five years.

Hun Sen is honored to put an end to the protracted threat of the Khmer Rouge, the radical communist group whose genocidal rule in 1975-79 had nearly 2 million dead. A Khmer Rouge officer himself, Hun Sen, ran to neighboring Vietnam, with whose army he returned to expel his former comrades. He became prime minister in a Hanoi-backed regime and fought against the Khmer Rouge guerrillas until the 1990s.

More recently, he led a period of impressive economic growth that helped finance infrastructure expansion, his big campaign

But with economic growth came corruption, land grabbing and nepotism, as well as a culture of impunity broken justice system is typical.

The demographics also seem to work against Hun Sen's party. A younger generation, without knowing first hand the history of war and instability in their country, will pay less attention to its warnings. Economic growth and the expanded horizons associated with a networked, globalized world increase expectations.

The breadth and depth of Hun Sen's crackdown is a break with his historical behavior, where he teased, mocked, threatened, and committed violence against his enemies, but at least they paid lip service to the norms of democratic rule.

That seems to be everywhere now, said Sebastian Strangio, author of a biography of the Prime Minister of 2014.

Hun Sen was committed to the Western donor countries that funded the massive peacekeeping and nation-building UN mission to rehabilitate Cambodia in 1992-1993 , The introduction of liberal democracy as a replacement for the classic communist one-party state Hun Sen was part of the agreement.

Further financial aid was needed for the development of Cambodia, so that Hun Sen could at least maintain a democratic framework to meet its needs benefactors. They tolerated a strong man who might not have been desirable but able.

If the election results of 2013 and 2017 were Hun Sen's motivation for its opponents, China was the trailblazer, Strangio said, making Western development aid obsolete by providing infrastructure loans worth hundreds of millions of dollars and other forms of finance short runs.

Beijing gains a solid political ally in Southeast Asia that can be relied on in international forums to support China's position on issues such as territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

"Over the past year, we've seen the government push back the freedom zones it once held in Cambodia against Western giver governments," Strangio said. 19659031] "Now the government no longer needs Western support, and it is able to adapt the Cambodian political landscape more in line with their long term of office and their current political interests," he said.

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