Election results in Cambodia might trigger political action in Brussels

The Cambodian government has announced the preliminary results of the July 29th national elections: a record turnout of 82.71%, with 77.5% of the votes for the ruling CCP party. All of the seats have gone to the CPP. With such kind of manipulated elections, Cambodia is leaving the general consensus of democracy and will likely be confronted with political and economic sanctions from the international community.

For the Brussels-based EU institutions, these results mean two things: the lobbying of the Cambodian opposition – which started last autumn – will increase, and the European External Action Service (EEAS) is now asked to implement the last aspects of the EP Urgent Resolution on Cambodia from December of 2017.

Daraan Kravanh, the president of the the Khmer Anti-Poverty Part (KAPP), the only party critical of the current government, which has remained in power for 33 years, published his conclusions: “Ten points never to forget”.

Daraan Kravanh

1. We have been naive – we thought that in our country there would still be a small space for democracy. We were wrong, totally wrong.

2. The parliament elections of 29 July 2018 are one of the darkest moments of democracy: an authoritarian and repressive government shows that the hopes and wishes of the population are of no concern, these elections are a betrayal of the popular will.

3. With these fraudulent elections our country had made itself ridiculous in the eyes of the international community.

4. Who in the world will believe that the participation in these elections has been 80%, while the polling station were never really crowded?

5. Who in the world will believe that an election campaign can be considered as free and fair after having forbidding opposition parties and forcing senior opposition party leadership to flee abroad?

6. Who in the world will believe that the cry of a population had been heard in a climate of fear, with arresting of opponents, closing of independent media, locking up journalists and those working for civil society groups and using the courts and security forces to crush dissent and intimidate critics?

7. Who in the world will believe that in a highly repressive political environment elections had been free and fair, where government officials were systematically mobilized to intimidate voters, threatening workers in the factories with loosing their jobs, cutting off water and electricity, or even be evicted from their homes, if they did not vote?

8. Who in the world will believe that an election is free and fair, if prior to the election, major news websites, including Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Voice of Democracy, and the Phnom Penh Post were blocked by the government’s Information Ministry?

9. This is the end of the road for democracy in Cambodia, though the development has been authoritarian for years. As Cambodia will lack after these elections a legitimate government, the international community will increase their actions.The European Union, the US, Australia and other key players have already – or will do after these elections – decided on denial of visa, freezing of assets and other sanctions on the leadership of Cambodia.

10. Who in the world is able to believe that this mockery of democracy which made our country a de facto one-party state will be accepted by the population and by the international community?