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Thai Political Tension Has Effects in Cambodia, Analysts Say

Anti-government protesters chant slogans during a rally outside the office of the permanent secretary for defense where Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was reportedly working inside, Monday, Feb. 3, 2014.

Political tensions that remain unresolved in both Cambodia and Thailand could lead to more violence in both countries, analysts warn.

Thailand is going through another spate of democratic reform, following demonstrations that forced Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down and call for new elections.

Those elections were disrupted Sunday by the main Thai opposition, who stopped people from voting and prevented the deliveries of ballot boxes in a number of electoral districts.

Hang Puthea, head of the Cambodian election-monitoring group Nicfec, said Thai violence could lead to more political tensions, and those could create spillover in Cambodia.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has continued to demand a recall vote, despite violent crackdowns on demonstrations, while the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has moved forward with basic governance without the opposition’s participation, he said.

“If the demands of each party remain apart, even if there is a recall election, there will surely be violence,” he said.

Meanwhile, Thailand continues to face challenges to its democratic system.

Responding to Sunday’s violence, Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, told reporters that the US will not “take sides.” “But we continue to urge all sides to commit to sincere dialogue.”

Speaking to reporters in Bangkok on Monday, Yingluck Shinawatra said people still want to see an election carried out.

Peter Tan Keo, a political analyst in Boston, Mass., told VOA Khmer that continued unrest in both countries is disrupting investor confidence, which could mean they take their money elsewhere.

“We are likely to see more protests in Cambodia and Thailand, as opposition leaders take extreme measures in resolving the political crises, while government on both sides will continue to ignore such extremities in negotiating with the opposition,” he said. “Mr. Hun Sen will not step down. Mr. Sam Rainsy/Mr. Kem Sokha will continue to press for a change in government. Those are extremities.”

Josh Kurlantzick, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, in Washington, told VOA Khmer that Thailand’s political situation is more complex than Cambodia’s, but that political problems in each country could affect the other. “It’s another drag on Asean,” he said.