|Former president of the dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Sam Rainsy, who is living in exile, speaks during an interview with Reuters on his terrace in Paris, France, July 19, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer|
Interview: Boycott sham Cambodian elections, says opponent Rainsy
Reuters | 20 July 2018
PARIS (Reuters) - Cambodians must show Prime Minister Hun Sen that his time is up by boycotting “fake” elections this month, and Western powers need to pressure him with targeted sanctions, exiled former opposition leader Sam Rainsy said on Thursday.
After two close elections in 2013 and 2017, Hun Sen is cracking down on his critics, prompting many rights groups and the main opposition to question the legitimacy of the July vote.
Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for 33 years, is widely expected to win after the Supreme Court dissolved Rainsy’s main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) last year and imprisoned its chief for alleged treason, leaving no significant competitor for his Cambodian People’s Party.
“Hun Sen is very afraid. He is ready to do anything to cling to power so he doesn’t hesitate to suppress all kinds of rights for the Cambodian people,” Rainsy told Reuters at his home in Paris. “An election without an opposition is meaningless.”
Hun Sen and smaller parties have launched their campaigns. But there has been no sign of the CNRP, many of whose leaders have fled the country over the past year fearing the government crackdown.
Rainsy went into exile in France in 2015 due to defamation convictions that he calls politically motivated, and quit the CNRP in February 2017 in a failed attempt to prevent it being banned. However, he returned to politics in November.