Cambodia's Opposition Party Calls on Indonesia, Asean to Reject Rigged Election


JULY 31, 2018

Jakarta. Cambodia's banned opposition party called on Indonesia to reject the results of Sunday's (29/07) election, warning of regional instability and stressing the importance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in helping the former French colony return to democracy.

"We are calling on Indonesia, as well as other friendly countries in the region, in Asean, to speak up, to stand with the Cambodian people," Monovithya Kem, deputy director for foreign affairs of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), told reporters in Jakarta on Monday.

A democratic Cambodia is necessary for Southeast Asia to remain stable, she added.

On Sunday, Cambodia held a parliamentary election that has been criticized as flawed and sham by a number of countries and international organizations.

CNRP vice president Mu Sochua said it marked the "death of democracy" in Cambodia.

The country's ruling party, the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) claimed it won 80 percent of the vote.

Last year, the government accused CNRP of plotting to topple the government. The accusation was followed by a Supreme Court ruling to dissolve the country's main opposition party.

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power since 1985. Last year, his administration intensified a campaign of intimidation and crackdown on dissent.

CNRP leader Kem Sokha was charged with treason in September.

"The Cambodian government over the past year has systematically cracked down on independent and opposition voices to ensure that the ruling party faces no obstacles to total political control," Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

'Stand With the Cambodian People'

CNRP has been trying to meet with representatives of the Indonesian government, but it is unclear whether and when they would be received.

"We ask that the government of Indonesia take a lead in Asean, because Indonesia gave us hope, gave the Cambodian people hope when there was genocide in Cambodia. We hope we will be able to meet with some representatives from the Indonesian government … we have been able to connect with parliament and civil society here, but we have not been able to meet with the government," Mu Sochua said.

Indonesia and France served as co-chairs during a conference that led to the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, which ended the decade-long Cambodian-Vietnamese war and paved way for restoration of democratic institutions in the country.

Marzuki Darusman, a human rights activist and chairman of a fact-finding mission on Myanmar set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council, referred to Sunday's election in Cambodia as "a clear sign of danger for Asean," stressing that the situation should alert the Indonesian government.

According to Marzuki, what is happening in Cambodia could potentially set back the region's political openness and create a domino effect across Southeast Asia, if it remains unaddressed.

Despite silence from Cambodia's closest neighbors, other members of the international community have spoken against the flawed election.

The United States said the election was "neither free nor fair and failed to represent the will of the Cambodian people."

The US, European Union, Japan and a number of other countries did not even send election observers, citing too problematic electoral process.