Supporters of the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party have renewed calls on Japan to end its support for July’s general election.
A demonstration is planned in the United States on June 16, while similar protests are also being called for in European countries and Japan and South Korea.
“We know that Japan has been working hard to find a political solution, but until now their effort has not been successful,” Eng Chhay Eang, a CNRP vice president, told VOA. “The Hun Sen regime does not seem to pay attention to the Japanese government’s requests. Therefore, overseas Cambodians cannot accept this fake election and have to hold protests.”
Cambodia will hold a general election on July 29 without the CNRP, which was dissolved last year amid allegations of treason, while 20 parties will contest the vote, including the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
“As we know the election on July 29 is not going to be free and fair,” said Ung Rithy, president of the CNRP-America. “This is because Japan supports Hun Sen’s staged elections. Therefore, we will hold a protest in front of the office of the Japanese Permanent Mission in the UN to show that we do not support Japan’s decision. We want Japan to withdraw its support so that it will force the Hun Sen government to abide by democracy and allow the CNRP’s participation in the election.”
“We want to ask Japan to be ready to deny the election results,” said Hay Vanna, a protest organizer. “We want Japan to impose visa restrictions on senior government officials and those who undermine democracy and violate human rights in Cambodia.”
In Europe a protest is planned for June 22 in front of Japanese embassy in Paris, according to organizers.
“We are not there to stage a protest against the Japanese, but to beg them to help us,” said Thay Makara, CNRP Coordinator in Europe. “We won’t ask them to cut off investment in Cambodia, but to pull their financial support for the election.”
The Japanese mission in New York and their embassy in Washington did not respond to repeated e-mail inquiries from VOA Khmer, but an official at the permanent mission in New York told VOA on condition of anonymity that Japan would not change its policy.
The European Union and the United States have suspended their support to the National Election Committee (NEC) after the Supreme Court dissolved the opposition party in late 2017. Japan is the only democratic country that continues to support the process. In February it donated more than 10,000 ballot boxes worth over $7.5 million.
“The legitimacy of the NEC already exists. Japanese support so far has proven this legitimacy,” said Hang Puthea, NEC spokesman.