No Foreign Observers at July 2013 Election

February 24, 2013

CAMBODIA

No Foreign Observers at the Coming Elections
No International Recognition for an Illegitimate Government
Resulting from Illegitimate Elections

Legislative elections in Cambodia are scheduled for July 28, 2013. Their organization by the National Election Committee (NEC), controlled by the authoritarian Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which has been in power for 34 years, runs fundamentally counter to international standards.

Methods used by the NEC/CPP include the manipulation of electoral lists, which allows the CPP to give itself a 27% start over the opposition before polling day. This 27% lead is made up of fictional voters, an automatic reservoir of support for the ruling party (10%) (1), and of real voters who are known to be favorable to the opposition and whose names are surreptitiously removed or deemed invalid by the NEC (17%) (2).

At the same time, the human rights situation continues to deteriorate with political opponents, critics and protesters being arrested, convicted and sent to prison on trumped-up charges. As leader of the opposition I have found myself the victim of the CPP judicial machine. I have been sentenced to a heavy prison sentence, forced into exile and deprived of my civic and political rights. I am therefore excluded from the electoral contest, which will allow the outgoing CPP prime minister to retain his post without being challenged.

In these conditions it’s clear that the coming elections will be everything but democratic, free and fair. However, the Paris accords on Cambodia signed under the auspices of the United Nations in 1991 demand “authentic elections” to guarantee “a system of liberal democracy, on the basis of pluralism.”

Faced with this totalitarian drift toward a one-party system, it is essential to support the United Nations, which has recommended a series of reforms to make the coming elections acceptable by international standards. Two key ideas are included in the recommendations: a reform of the composition and operations of the NEC to make it more impartial and credible, and the safe return of the leader of the opposition who must be able to stand as a candidate for prime minister and to take part fully in the electoral campaign as in any parliamentary democracy.

But as long as the Cambodian government continues to reject the UN recommendations, other international organizations, friendly countries and non-complacent non-government organizations are asked not to send electoral observers. In fact, based on the above figures, the result of the July 28 election has already been decided: another landslide victory for the CPP, which will defeat the opposition by at least 27%. There is no point going to watch a game that has been fixed in advance. Some ill-informed observers just risk validating the charade, which represents an injustice to the Cambodian people, whose will is being distorted. In the communal elections of June 2012, the CPP won a Soviet-style victory, while the two components of the parliamentary opposition – now merged into the Cambodia National Rescue Party – still won 31% of the vote, despite the famous 27% handicap and other unfair practices by the CPP.

International organizations and friendly countries are also asked to make known to the current government of Cambodia that, after July 28, any government arising from fraudulent and illegitimate elections will, given the scale of the fraud, be likewise considered as illegitimate.

Sam Rainsy,
President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party and leader of the opposition.

(1) Fictional, or phantom, voters significantly inflate the electoral register, which has 9.7 million names while the population of voting age is only 8.9 million. See “Sam Rainsy Calls Foul on National Voter Register” in The Cambodia Daily, January 23, 2013. There is clear evidence of impersonation.

(2) On the eve of communal elections on June 1, 2012, about 1.5 million legitimate voters, or 17% of the electorate, were likely disenfranchised. See “Ahead of Elections, Right to Vote in Doubt for 1.5 Million” in The Cambodia Daily, February 29, 2012, and “Names Missing from Voter Rolls,” Radio Free Asia, May 10, 2012.

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