Cambodians vote in local election amid intimidation, threats

Jun 3, 2022, 9:36 PM | Updated: Jun 4, 2022, 7:49 pm
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP), stands at a ballot box at ...

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP), stands at a ballot box at a polling station in Takhmua in Kandal province, southeast of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sunday, June 5, 2022. Cambodians headed to the polls Sunday in local elections that are their first chance to vote since the ruling party of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen swept a 2018 general election that was widely criticized as unfair. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodians headed to the polls Sunday in local elections that are their first chance to vote since the ruling party of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen swept a 2018 general election that was widely criticized as unfair.

Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party is certain to sail to easy victory again following what the U.N. Human Rights Office charged Thursday was a pattern of “threats, intimidation and obstruction targeting opposition candidates. “

“Candidates have faced numerous restrictions and reprisals that have hindered their activities, with imprisonment of a number of candidates that appears designed to curb political campaigning,” the agency said. It added that at least six opposition candidates and activists were in detention four days before the polls, awaiting trial, while others summonsed on politically motivated charges had gone into hiding.

Cambodia’s delegation at the U.N. Geneva offices said in a statement that the criticism was “erroneous, politicized and selective.” It said “all political parties, including opposition ones, have fully exercised their rights in line with the laws and registered schedules without any threats and obstruction.”

Hun Sen and his wife cast their ballots Sunday morning in Kandal province near the capital, Phnom Penh.

Hun Sen, an authoritarian ruler in a nominally democratic state, has held power for 37 years. He has said he intends to stay in office until 2028 and has endorsed one of his sons to succeed him.

His party is the only one to field candidates nationwide in all 1,652 communes. Its only serious rival, the Candlelight Party, has candidates in 1,632 communes, and the royalist FUNCINPEC Party has challengers in 688 communes. There are a total of 82,786 candidates from 17 political parties with 9.2 million registered voters.

The local elections are held a year ahead of the general election, and are regarded as a test of the parties’ strength.

In the last communal elections in 2017, the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party made an unexpectedly strong showing, which led Hun Sen’s government to crack down on it as well as independent media. The party was dissolved by the Supreme Court on a charge of treason, widely seen as politically motivated, and the free press was driven out of business or cowed into submission.

Without the Cambodian National Rescue Party on the ballot, Hun Sen’s party was assured of victory in the general election the following year.

Several Western nations imposed sanctions on the government after concluding the 2018 election was neither free nor fair. The harshest measure came from the European Union, which withdrew some preferential trading privileges.

The dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, whose sitting members were also ousted from their political posts, remains banned, with most of its top leaders in exile.

The Candlelight Party is now seeking to challenge the ruling party by rallying its former supporters, though its activities have remained severely curtailed.

The original Candlelight Party was founded in 1995 by Sam Rainsy, the main political rival of Hun Sen, and later folded into the Cambodia National Rescue Party. Sam Rainsy, faced with legal harassment, went into self-exile in France, and the co-founder of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, Kem Sokha, is currently being tried on a thinly supported treason charge.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Police: Mother drowned children, then killed herself

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Three children whose bodies were found in a suburban Minneapolis lake over the holiday weekend died in drownings that were classified as homicides, and their mother died of a drowning that was suicide, authorities said Tuesday as they also identified the victims. Searchers recovered the bodies of Molly Cheng and […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Mexican navy sets net hooks in bid to help vaquita porpoise

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican navy said Tuesday it has begun a controversial plan to drop concrete blocks onto the bottom of the Gulf of California to snag illegal nets that drown critically endangered vaquita marina porpoises. As few as eight of the tiny, elusive porpoises remain in the Gulf, also known as the […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

North Carolina man pleads guilty in police officer’s death

MOIUNT HOLLY, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges stemming from the fatal shooting of a police officer in 2020, authorities said. During his hearing, Joshua Tyler Funk, 24, of Mount Holly, entered a guilty plea for murder, news outlets reported. In exchange for his plea, the other charges […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Colorado funeral home owner pleads guilty in body sales case

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado funeral home operator accused of illegally selling body parts and giving clients fake ashes has pleaded guilty to mail fraud in federal court. The Daily Sentinel reports that Megan Hess faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison after entering the plea Tuesday in Grand Junction. Other […]
17 hours ago
FILE - Mirabilite spring mounds are shown at the Great Salt Lake on May 3, 2022, near Salt Lake Cit...
Associated Press

Great Salt Lake hits new historic low for 2nd time in a year

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Great Salt Lake has hit a new historic low for the second time in less than a year as the ongoing megadrought worsened by climate change continues to shrink the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi. Utah Department of Natural Resources said Monday in a news release the […]
17 hours ago
FILE - In this June 1995, file photo a Northern Spotted owl sits on a branch in Point Reyes, Calif....
Associated Press

Judge throws out Trump-era rollbacks on endangered species

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday threw out a host of actions by the Trump administration to roll back protections for endangered or threatened species, a year after the Biden administration said it was moving to strengthen such species protections. U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in Northern California eliminated the Trump-era rules even […]
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Cambodians vote in local election amid intimidation, threats