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Cambodian Expats Protest Election Dubbed ‘Funeral for Democracy’


Cambodian Americans rallied July 28, 2018 outside the U.S. Capitol, calling for genuine democracy in Cambodia and asserting this weekend's election in Cambodia was bogus because the leading opposition party was prevented from participating. (You Sotheary/VOA Khmer)

The demonstrations marked the last push by the opposition to lobby for a boycott of the vote following the party’s dissolution by the Cambodian People’s Party-controlled Supreme Court in November.

Supporters of the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party and rights activists living overseas have held two days of protests against the general election.

Cambodians gathered in cities across the United States and Europe, while another protest was organized in Montreal, Canada.

Eng Chhay Eang, a CNRP vice president, said Prime Minister Hun Sen had organized a “fake election to kill democracy”.

“We won’t accept this fake election and we are gathering worldwide to protest against it,” he told VOA during the Washington protest on Saturday.

The demonstrations marked the last push by the opposition to lobby for a boycott of the vote following the party’s dissolution by the Cambodian People’s Party-controlled Supreme Court in November.

Chhay Eang urged Cambodians not to lend legitimacy to the election, which he said was taking place without a viable opposition party.

“All Cambodian people must join hands to disempower Hun Sen on July 29 by keeping your fingers clean and staying home,” he said, referring to the ink that is used to stain voters’ fingers after they cast a ballot.

As well as the CPP, 19 other minor parties are contesting the vote on Sunday.

Hun Sen led the CPP’s last day of campaigning on Friday with a strong message against those intending to boycott the vote, saying they would be “sorry” and that they are “destroying democracy”.

Protesters in Washington said more threats would not deter people from spoiling the ballot or boycotting the election.

“People should not fear this repression anymore,” said Lor Layso, a protest organizer in California. “This is an illegal act. We, the owners of our votes, must be brave to join our compatriots around the world and the international community by boycotting this election because they totally support you. They blacklist those who destroy democracy, violate human rights, and are stained with Khmer blood.”

In Europe, protests were held in France, Germany, and Switzerland.

“We are here to appeal to the United Nations and signatory countries of the Paris Peace Agreement not recognize this fake election,” said Thay Makara, a protest organizer in Europe. “Hun Sen is preparing a funeral for democracy through this fake election. Therefore, they should not recognize any government formed afterwards.”

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