Cambodia says 50,000 observers to monitor July election

Cambodia’s July election is widely expected to be a landslide victory for Prime Minister Hun Sen after the main opposition party was dissolved in 2017.
Cambodia’s July election is widely expected to be a landslide victory for Prime Minister Hun Sen after the main opposition party was dissolved in 2017. PHOTO: AFP

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia's National Election Committee (NEC) on Wednesday (June 27) said 50,000 observers, including some from China, Myanmar and Singapore, will monitor a general election next month, which is widely expected to be a landslide victory for Prime Minister Hun Sen after the main opposition party was dissolved last year.

Cambodia has invited international observers to monitor the July vote, but local election watchdogs, including the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL) urged international observers to think twice before accepting.

Hun Sen and his allies 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.

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 NEC said the participation of foreign observers showed that the election was open and comprehensive.

"This shows that the election is open, the participation is comprehensive and that there is a lot of trust in the election,"NEC's spokesman Hang Puthea told Reuters on Wednesday.

The NEC said that it was reviewing applications from an additional 800 foreign observers from non governmental organisations seeking to monitor the July 29 election.

Rhona Smith, a UN human rights expert on Cambodia, has said that the upcoming election can't be genuine if the CNRP is barred from taking part.