associate sponsors


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen warns opposition to not challenge local poll result

Phnom Penh: Cambodia's longtime ruler warned opposition parties on Friday not to challenge the result of Sunday's local elections or they could be dissolved.

Prime Minister Hun Sen made a rare appearance on the last day of rallies before the vote to drum up support for his ruling Cambodian People's Party. He has repeatedly warned of civil war if his party loses. It has been accused of using violence or the threat of violence against opponents, but in recent years has stalked its foes mostly in courts.

The polls could have a major impact on Cambodia's political landscape ahead of 2018 national elections. Hun Sen's iron grip on power was shaken four years ago when the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party won 55 of the 123 national assembly seats in the last general election. The opposition claimed it had actually won but was cheated out of its victory and says it is confident it will sweep Sunday's polls for seats in 1,646 communes — or clusters of villages — throughout the country.

Cambodia's Prime Minister and President of Cambodian People's Party (CPP) Hun Sen delivers a speech to his supporters during the last day of campaigning for the June 4 commune elections on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, June 2, 2017. Twelve political parties and around 88,000 commune council candidates are vying to run in 1,646 communes, or clusters of villages, throughout the country. Although the commune elections are local affairs, the polls have the potential to have a major impact on the political landscape in the years to come. AP

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen delivers a speech to his supporters during the last day of campaigning for the June 4 commune elections on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. AP

Hun Sen, appearing at a rally apparently for the first time in around 20 years, appealed to all political parties to accept the outcome rather than make accusations of irregularities, saying courts can dissolve any party if it challenges the result of the vote.

"There is absolutely only the Cambodian People's Party that has a full ability to control and maintain peace for the sake of continuing to develop our country," he said. "I do hope all parties will accept the outcome. Despite the fact we do not know yet which political party will win, I am sure our party will."

Riding at the head of a motorcade procession of tens of thousands of his supporters, Hun Sen waved to crowds and addressed them through loudspeakers as the convoy made rounds in Phnom Penh.

Several hours later, opposition leader Kem Sokha addressed tens of thousands of supporters in the streets of Phnom Pehn, promising to reduce corruption and the use of illegal drugs in the country if his Cambodia National Rescue Party wins.

Hun Sen and some of his top ministers have frequently used strong rhetoric leading up to the vote, warning of dire consequences should the opposition win, in what has been seen as an attempt to intimidate voters into supporting him.

This week, Amnesty International accused Cambodia's government of using its grip on the judiciary system to intimidate human rights defenders and political activists. It said in a report that since the 2013 general election, Hun Sen's government has used the courts as a tool to imprison at least 27 prominent opposition officials, human rights defenders and land activists, as well as hundreds of others facing legal cases.

Also early this month, the state department said the US was urging Cambodia's government to "guarantee a political space free from threats or intimidation" and respect freedom of expression for all its citizens.

In the last communal elections in 2012, Hun Sen's party received 60 percent of the vote compared to the Cambodia National Rescue Party's 30.6 percent.

The ruling party could also take some credit for bringing modest economic growth and stability in a country devastated by the communist Khmer Rouge's regime in the 1970s. Hun Sen left the movement that was responsible for the deaths of some 1.7 million people from starvation, disease and executions before it was toppled in 1979.

Updated Date: Jun 02, 2017 14:52 PM

Also Watch

Social Media Star: Abhishek Bachchan, Varun Grover reveal how they handle selfies, trolls and broccoli
  • Monday, July 16, 2018 It's a Wrap: Soorma star Diljit Dosanjh and Hockey legend Sandeep Singh in conversation with Parul Sharma
  • Monday, July 16, 2018 Watch: Dalit man in Uttar Pradesh defies decades of prejudice by taking out baraat in Thakur-dominated Nizampur village
  • Monday, July 16, 2018 India's water crisis: After govt apathy, Odisha farmer carves out 3-km canal from hills to tackle scarcity in village
  • Sunday, July 15, 2018 Maurizio Sarri, named as new Chelsea manager, is owner Roman Abramovich's latest gamble in quest for 'perfect football'

Also See