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Cambodia Invites International Observers to Monitor Election 

FILE - A Cambodian woman votes in the senate election at Takhmau polling station in Kandal province, southeast of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Feb. 25, 2018. The general election is in July.

Cambodia’s national election body has invited international observers to monitor the July general election, widely expected to be a landslide victory for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and Prime Minister Hun Sen because the main opposition party was dissolved last year.

International delegates are required by law to be invited to observe Cambodian elections. Local nongovernmental groups also received invitations.

Both local and international observers will be able to submit written reports of their findings after the vote concludes, but local groups may be reluctant to take part following months of government-led suppression of criticism and Cambodia’s Supreme Court November dissolution of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

During the senate election in February, which resulted in a sweeping CPP win, two local election monitors boycotted the proceedings.

Korn Savang, an election monitor at Comfrel, a local pro-democracy group, said a decision on whether the group will take part in the election would be made after party registration closes in May.

“It’s important that candidates of political parties are allowed to compete. No matter which party they are in or which party they work for, all their rights, [including] the rights of the 118 political candidates who were banned, must be ensured so they are able to join other political parties,” he said, referring to a group of opposition CNRP politicians who were banned from politics when the party was dissolved.

Sam Kuntheamy, executive director of Nicfec, another local election observer, said a combination of the tense political climate and a lack of funding made the group’s participation uncertain.

Dim Sovannarom, the spokesman for Cambodia’s National Election Committee, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The CNRP, which gained more than 40 percent of the vote in local elections last year, also saw its president, Kem Sokha, jailed on treason charges over an alleged foreign-backed conspiracy to topple Hun Sen.

This story was written by Hul Reaksmey.