JAKARTA: Prominent Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Friday (May 19) denounced the upcoming general election as a “fake and sham” after the country’s the sole opposition party was disqualified from the race this week.
The Candlelight Party was disqualified by the election commission on Monday over what the poll body said was failure to submit proper registration documents, a move critics have said threatens to undermine democracy and political freedoms in the Southeast Asian country.
July’s poll will be a “fake and sham election for the simple reason that there will be no opposition,” said Rainsy, the self-exiled former opposition leader, adding Cambodia was “in effect a one-party system”.
He was speaking at an event in the Indonesian capital on press freedom in Southeast Asia.
Rainsy urged democratic countries not to recognise the legitimacy of the Cambodian election and long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen.
A Cambodian government spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.
The ruling Cambodian People’s Party said earlier this week that the election would be free and fair, adding that more than 10 other parties had registered.
The Candlelight Party is a reincarnation of the now-disbanded opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party, which Rainsy co-founded. The Supreme Court dissolved that party in 2017 as part of what was derided as a wider crackdown on Hun Sen’s critics.