Cambodia: Hun Sen refuses negotiations with opposition as election looms
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Cambodia: Hun Sen refuses negotiations with opposition as election looms

CAMBODIA’S Prime Minister has rejected the proposal of talks with the country’s only credible opposition party, which was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November.

According to Associated Press, Hun Sen also said Tuesday he would ignore the appeals of foreign nations promoting such talks.

Last week, 45 nations – including United States, Germany, Australia and United Kingdom – called on Cambodia to reinstate the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), as well as hold free and fair elections and release jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha, who was jailed last year on charges of treason.

SEE ALSO: Cambodia urged to release opposition leader, hold fair election by 45 nations

Kem Sokha was due in court Tuesday but did not appear for the hearing where the Appeal Court rejected a challenge on the extension of his pre-trial detention.

Speaking on Tuesday, Hun Sen – who has ruled the country for over 30 years – ruled out a pardon for both the imprisoned politician and the former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy, who is currently in exile in France.

The CNRP would have been the only credible opposition to Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party in this July’s general election.


A supporter of Kem Sokha, former opposition leader and ex-president of the now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), scuffles with a policeman near the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 27, 2018. Source: Reuters/Samrang Pring

On Monday, the former Khmer Rouge general told the crowds at a ground breaking ceremony that the election would be held on July 29 and would not face delay like its neighbour Thailand.

“We have not stopped any elections in Cambodia, as have other countries who abandoned the election because of the political environment. There will be no postponement in Cambodia,” he said, as reported by The Khmer Times. “This is the normal process of Cambodian democracy.”

SEE ALSO: Cambodia slammed for deteriorating human rights situation

The dissolution of the opposition, along with silencing critics, are considered efforts to ensure a victory for Hun Sen.

Independent news media and international NGOs have also been shuttered in part of his campaign to silence dissent and opposition in the lead up to elections. Hun Sen even threatened to close the Cambodian Center for Human Rights but later reneged on the suggestion and allowed the organisation continue its work.

Since the dissolution of the CNRP in November, Western countries have threatened to cut off electoral aid and assistance to the government, but allies such as China, Japan, South Korea and Russia continue to support the electoral process in Cambodia.