|FILE PHOTO: Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen's son Hun Many, president of the Union of Youth Federation of Cambodia (UYFC), attends a campaign to break the world record for longest cotton scarf weaved, by reaching a length of 1000 metres, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 7, 2018. Reuters/Samrang Pring/File Photo|
Election monitoring groups in Cambodia headed by PM's son, 'ambassador'
Reuters | 20 July 2018
PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Three of the groups approved to monitor Cambodia’s election have close ties to Prime Minister Hun Sen, one headed by his son and the other two led by a man who was appointed by the Southeast Asian country’s strongman ruler as a “goodwill ambassador”.
Cambodia heads to the polls on July 29 for an election criticized by the United Nations and Western countries as fundamentally flawed after the dissolution of the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and imprisonment of its leader, Kem Sokha, last year.
The United States and the European Union responded to the crackdown by withdrawing financial support and monitors from the election, a step followed by independent local and international NGOs that had overseen previous elections.
The National Election Committee (NEC) says it has approved 69 individual foreign observers, but doesn’t provide the number of institutions.
It has registered 107 domestic groups, which will be dominated by the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), an organization led by Hun Many, the prime minister’s son and a lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
A total of 36,000 members of the UYFC had been registered, said Huy Vannak, a member of the youth organization’s central committee and undersecretary of state for the Interior Ministry. The group will contribute almost half of the 77,534 monitors.
Dim Sovannarom, a spokesman for the NEC, confirmed that “tens of thousands” of the UYFC’s members had been ratified as election observers. UYFC provided election monitors in past polls but not on this scale.