Cambodia’s long-time ruler yesterday warned opposition parties not to challenge the result of tomorrow’s local elections or they could be dissolved.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen made a rare appearance on the last day of rallies before the vote to drum up support for his ruling Cambodian People’s Party. He has repeatedly warned of civil war if his party loses.
The party has been accused of using violence or the threat of violence against opponents, but in recent years has stalked its foes mostly in courts.
The polls could have a major impact on Cambodia’s political landscape ahead of next year’s national elections. Hun Sen’s iron grip on power was shaken four years ago, when the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party won 55 of 123 Cambodian National Assembly seats in the last general election.
The opposition claimed it had actually won, but was cheated out of its victory and has said it is confident it will sweep tomorrow’s polls for seats in 1,646 communes — or clusters of villages — throughout the country.
Hun Sen, appearing at a rally apparently for the first time in about 20 years, appealed to all political parties to accept the outcome rather than make accusations of irregularities, saying courts can dissolve any party if it challenges the result of the vote.
“There is absolutely only the Cambodian People’s Party that has a full ability to control and maintain peace for the sake of continuing to develop our country,” he said. “I do hope all parties will accept the outcome. Despite the fact we do not know yet which political party will win, I am sure our party will.”
Riding at the head of a motorcade of tens of thousands of his supporters, Hun Sen waved to crowds and addressed them through loudspeakers as the convoy made the rounds in Phnom Penh.
Hun Sen and some of his top ministers have frequently used strong rhetoric leading up to the elections, warning of dire consequences should the opposition win, in what has been seen as an attempt to intimidate voters into supporting him.
This week, Amnesty International accused the Cambodian government of using its grip on the judiciary system to intimidate human rights defenders and political activists.
It said in a report that since the 2013 general election, Hun Sen’s government has used the courts as a tool to imprison at least 27 prominent opposition officials, human rights defenders and land activists, as well as hundreds of others facing legal cases.
The US Department of State on Wednesday said the US was urging the Cambodian government to “guarantee a political space free from threats or intimidation” and respect freedom of expression for all its citizens.
In the last communal elections in 2012, Hun Sen’s party received 60 percent of the vote, compared with the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s 30.6 percent.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread