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Minor Opposition Parties Divided Ahead of Election


Cambodia's self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks during a press conference in Tokyo, Friday, April 13, 2018. Rainsy urged Japan, his nation's biggest donor, to use its leverage and convince the autocratic government to make sure that the July election is democratic. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

On April 30, the National Election Committee announced it was opening registration for parties who wished to contest the July 29 vote.

Two minor political parties set to contest in July’s general election have condemned the former opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, for “devaluing political rights and people’s rights”.

The Khmer Will Party (KWP), led by Kong Monkia, the son of a former Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) official, and the Motherland Party, led by Chann Bunhorn, in a statement distanced themselves from Rainsy, who has been a vocal opponent of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s crackdown on dissent ahead of this year’s critical national election.

“Our parties condemn irresponsible acts, insinuations, the devaluing of political rights and people rights, which after the Paris Peace Agreement, under Cambodia’s constitution, are supported and strengthened to promote democracy, stability, peace, and development for the country and people in all circumstances,” they wrote in a joint statement.

The statement was made after a separate statement, from the Candlelight Party, led by Teav Vannol, a former SRP senator, said the party would boycott the election.

Monika of the KWP and Bunhorn of the Motherland Party could not be reached for comment.

Vannol said: “The way they are criticizing [Rainsy] is because they want votes ... so they have to attack their competitors. This is normal in a democracy, but the final decision is up to the people,” he said.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party, a merger of the Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party, founded by ex-CNRP president Kem Sokha, was dissolved last November by the Supreme Court. Sokha was jailed on treason charges, for which Rainsy, who lives in exile in France, is also wanted.

On April 30, the National Election Committee announced it was opening registration for parties who wished to contest the July 29 vote.

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