Cambodia on Wednesday invited foreign observers to monitor a July general election, as required by law, which long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen is poised to win after the main opposition party was disbanded.
The National Election Committee said the foreign observers would have to submit written reports on their findings.
Koul Panha, Director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, an election watchdog, said international observers should think before accepting.
“They should be more cautious in responding to the invitation. Many of them have standards on prerequisite principles for their engagement decision,” he said.
Sen and his supporters 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 CNRP dissolution was followed by the arrest of CNRP leader Kem Sokha for plotting to overthrow the government with U.S. help, an accusation both the U.S. and Kem Sokha have rejected.
NAN reports that in January, Cambodia held the senate election on Feb 25 while the national election will be held on July 29, in spite of strong criticism from the international community after CNRP was dissolved by the country’s supreme court in November 2017.
In response to the dissolution of CNRP, the U. S. and European Union subsequently suspended their aid for the upcoming general election, saying voting could not be legitimate without the opposition.
However, Hun Sen has continued to repeat his stance that Cambodia will hold its elections as scheduled.
Cambodian law clearly states that even though the date will be announced by prime minister, he will need to follow the conditions laid out in the Constitution and that the prime minister has no right to set the election beyond what is stipulated in the Constitution, Hun Sen said.
“An election requires the Cambodian people to participate; it doesn’t require the president of any country or the UN’ secretary general or a multi-party mechanism to recognise this election,” said Hun Sen.
“I believed that situation in our country is a situation which is moving forward in the framework of a multi-party democracy.”.