11 July 2024

Prime Minister Hun Sen has slammed the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party’s election boycott a “stupid act” and a miscalculation”.

Days after the ruling Cambodian People’s Party claimed landslide victory on Sunday’s election, Hun Sen on Thursday told thousands of factory workers Phnom Penh that the opposition’s campaign had failed as more than 82 percent of the people across the country voted “showing that our people support their own democratic process.”

The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court last year and its 118 members were banned from politics for five years as part of a sweeping crackdown in the lead-up to the election.

Meanwhile, CNRP deputy leader  Mu Sochua called on the Australian government to reject the election results and to send a clear signal to Hun Sen “that he cannot destroy democracy”.

She told ABC that voters were robbed of their right to choose the party of their choice and called the election “a sham”.

“Cambodia will be destroyed,” she said, calling on the Australian government to pressure Cambodia to restore democracy.

“It will be an economic crisis, social crisis and again the political crisis will never end,” said So Chua.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia would engage the Cambodian government “and make our concerns known” and “seek a response”.  She added that Australia had stated very strongly that the election was “clearly not free and open.”

But Sochua said that action is needed, not just words.  “It’s time for a country like Australia to stop just saying serious concerns, but to take steps,” she added and urged Australia to consider visa sanctions and investment restrictions against high-ranking officials as well as economic sanctions.

The exiled opposition deputy leader also accused China of supporting “a dictator”.

“We went through the genocide that was backed by China.  Don’t forget that,” she said, referring to the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge regime under which “two million people were killed between 1975-1979, including my parents.”

In a statement released by China’s Foreign Ministry, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi offered his congratulations for what he called a “smooth” election.

“China has always resolutely supported Cambodia’s efforts to protect its sovereignty, independence, and stability, and opposes any foreign country interfering in Cambodia’s internal affairs,” Mr. Wang was cited as saying by the statement.