Cambodia invites foreign observers to monitor ‘sham’ election
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Cambodia invites foreign observers to monitor ‘sham’ election

CAMBODIA on Wednesday invited international observers to monitor and evaluate the upcoming July general election, in which Prime Minister Hun Sen is set to win after the main opposition party was dissolved in November.

Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, an election watchdog, said international observers should think before accepting.

“They should be more cautious in responding to the invitation. Many of them have standards on prerequisite principles for their engagement decision,” he said.

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

The National Election Committee said the foreign observers would have to submit written reports on their findings.

Hun Sen and his supporters have waged a campaign against critics, including members of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), in what opponents say is a bid to prolong his leadership after 33 years in office.

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Kem Sokha greets supporters during a campaign rally in Prey Veng province, Cambodia, on May 28, 2017. Source: Reuters/Samrang Pring

The CNRP was dissolved and its lawmakers banned from politics in November after the Supreme Court ruled that it had tried to overthrow the government – something the CNRP has denied.

The CNRP dissolution was followed by the arrest of CNRP leader Kem Sokha for plotting to overthrow the government with US help, an accusation both the United States and Kem Sokha have rejected.

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

In March, Hun Sen rejected the proposal of talks with the CNRP, saying he would ignore all appeals of foreign nations promoting the engagement after nations called on him to reinstate the opposition and hold free and fair.

Since the dissolution of the CNRP, Western countries have cut off electoral aid and assistance to the government, calling the election a “sham” if it goes ahead with only one party. But allies such as China, Japan, South Korea and Russia continue to support the electoral process in Cambodia.

In January, Tokyo announced that it would continue funding Cambodia’s National Election Committee. They also pledged additional funds for new ballot boxes.

Additional reporting by Reuters