On July 28, Cambodian voters will decide whether to end or extend the 28-year rule of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) as the nation prepares for its fifth National Assembly elections since 1993. The CPP is led by Prime Minister Hun Sen who is already the longest serving head of state in Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, opposition groups formed a coalition called Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to challenge the dominance of Hun Sen’s party. But the opposition must work harder since most analysts believe Hun Sen is expected to win again as prime minister.
To know more about Cambodian elections, the National Election Committee has been providing some pertinent documents related to election laws and processes. It also launched a portal for citizens to browse the Voter List. The Twitter hashtag #electionsKH is used to monitor election updates.
Some people have asked us why we have made an elections page when, up until now, ODC has focused mostly on economic and environmental information. But from our point of view, sustainable development is dependent on good governance, which in a democracy relates to elections. We’re providing election information to citizens so that they can be informed voters.
Another election page is Cambodia Voter Voice. It has a separate portal called ‘Ask the Candidates’ where netizens can leave questions for candidates and political parties. The Committee For Free And Fair Elections or Comfrel also releases news updates about the election campaign
On Twitter, @sopheaksrey surveyed the presence of parties in the media:
@sopheaksrey On local TV voters could see CPP only, but on Facebook public should hearing CNRP mostly. On radio they seem fair play campaign. #elections
He also revealed the campaign expenses of the ruling party in 2012:
@sopheaksrey How much money political parties spent for campaign ? COMFREL learned that CPP spent at least 16 millions dollars US for campaign in 2012.
Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, highlights the issues that should be tackled in the campaign:
Cambodia has come a long way since the end of the civil war, in terms of securing peace and generating economic development, yet many significant and well-documented problems continue to plague Cambodia.
The Cambodian people want to hear what a future government will do about the current land crisis, how it will tackle corruption, how it will strengthen the rule of law to ensure that all Cambodians have access to justice.
Cambodians should demand that parties put people before politics – by putting policies before politicians – and they are fast running out of time.
This open letter has a single but important demand: greater media freedom:
Dear parliamentary candidates of all political parties,
We, the staff and members of the civil society groups listed, and our partners, families and friends, who are registered voters throughout Cambodia, will only consider voting for members of parliament of all political parties that keep the media free at all times.
Exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy announced that he will return to the country before election day:
I remain excluded from the electoral process, forced into exile to avoid the heavy prison sentence which accompanied the removal of my civic and political rights.
I have decided to return because my presence as leader of the opposition and the fate that awaits me will be a test of the reality of the “free and fair elections” promised by the Paris accords, which also promised for Cambodia “a system of liberal democracy, on the basis of pluralism.” My return will serve as an opportunity for democracy to develop and will remind everyone concerned, Cambodians and friends of Cambodia alike, of their obligations
But @COMFREL doubts if Sam Rainsy will fulfill the pledge:
@COMFREL Cambodian people doubt about the returning of Sam Rainsy, opposition leader before election day -July 28. He used to claim that many times.
Civil society groups have earlier warned against voting irregularities:
We also wish to express our concern over the lack of transparency on preparations for the elections along with the overall poor management of the recruitment and selection of members of election commissions at all level, and the poor quality of the voter list that will result in a loss of voting rights to otherwise eligible voters.