Ashaving mentioned above, there are many contributing factors that blow to the terminaldecline of democracy in Cambodia. Deep down, this can beviewed as a theory of the structural realism that the government of Hun Sen isapplying. This concept has tremendously spoiled the fragile democratic practicethat have just been recovered in 1993 along with the assistance of UnitedNation peacebuilders and peacekeepers which is known as the United NationTransitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). By taking a deeper analysis, asCambodian People’s Party has been in the governmental power since 1993, they tendto use any possible strategy in order to remove the upcoming threats for thenext national election in 2018 so that they would be able to enjoy excising andmaximizing their power and party’s interests for another term. CambodianPeople’s Party’s primary approach towards their ambition of winning the nextnational poll is to crackdown any press and non-government organization (NGO)that have always been a political challenge and have considerately criticized thegovernment’s performance and action since the previous elections (Soeung, 2017).
Typically, thosecriticism would surely defame their party and somehow it would lead to areduction in publicity from voters; this scenario has already happened in 2013general election in which Cambodian People’s Party has lost a huge amount ofvotes to Cambodia National Recuse Party. Hence, according to Soeung (2017), Senator John McCain, Congressmen AlanLowenthal and Steve Chabot have emphasized on the 2018 general electionin Cambodia that it does not seem to be a free and fair democratic ballotbecause it has been threatened by powerful actors in this state. Lowenthal has also claimed thatit is very vital to start putting sanction on the ruling Cambodia’s PeopleParty government with the aim of promoting democracy in Cambodia and turningCambodia away from being an autocracy. Many diplomats, donors and experts including John Lansing, CEO of the Broadcasting Board ofGovernors, strongly suggest the Cambodian government to reconsider aboutthose decisions on shutting down independent media and NGOs in order toguarantee full political and civil rights, and media freedoms (Soeung, 2017). Despitethose criticisms and recommendations from International Arena, the currentCambodian government has ignored them and the ruling party tends to maximizetheir power and eliminate those who block the way to achieve their interests. Moreover,the attempt to get rid of the political presence of a main opposition party knownas Cambodia National Rescue Partyhave been many time so far.
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Basically, the government accused a former president of CambodiaNational Rescue Party, Sam Rainsy, of defamation conviction which is contradictto a principle of democracy that allows people to express their thoughtpublicly; therefore he has been in self-imposed in France since 2015. Accordingto SOLOMON (2016), Sam Rainsy hasclaimed that the government ruled by Cambodia People’s Party has intended topush him away from Cambodia particularly from 2018 general election since heappeared to be a major political rival to Prime Minister Hun Sen.Rainsy continued that it was truly illegal to bar him from returning back toCambodia because he holds a Cambodian Citizenship thus he cannot be banned fromhis home country; he also drew the international attention that “It is crystalclear now that they just want to discard me from the electoral process, meaningthat they fear my presence.” (SOLOMON, 2016).
Hun Sen’s government has nointention to stop his progress because back then his government has filed alawsuit to dissolve a main opposition party, Cambodia National Recuse Party, inCambodia which has been a major threat to his rule in the next election. Head (2017)reports that in September2017 the government ruled by Cambodia’s People Party has desperately arrestedKem Sokha, the successor of Sam Rainsy’s presidency, during the night time inhis house without any consent from the court. Particularly, after getting himarrested, the court announced his conviction for conspiring with United Statesto capture the governmental power. Back then, Cambodia National Rescue Partyhas also been accused of intending to topple the government in order to grabthe governmental seat.
Due to this claim, the Supreme Court of Cambodia decidedto dissolve this main opposition party and ban over 100 politicians fromparticipating in politics (Head, 2017).Kem Monovithya, Kem Sokha’s daughter, has appealed tothe international actors to take action in Cambodia in order to find afundamental solution towards democracy and human rights in her country.Therefore, western countries and European Union has condemned Cambodiangovernment’s political behavior and assumed that it is a negative approach ofdemocracy, which means the crackdown on opposition party would cause unfairnessin 2018 election (Thul, 6).After restricting on public expression and mediafreedoms, and dissolving Cambodia National Rescue Party, the government of HunSen has been trying to get supported from China so as to get recognized for2018 election even his government has been largely complained by United Statesand European Union.
From the White House in United State, a spokesman statedthat the next year’s election does not seem to be free, fair, legitimate andinclusive; therefore United States does not recognize that election andwithdraw from funding (Lefevre & Thul, 2017). Likewise, theEuropeans states does not feel comfortable with all these human rights anddemocratic violations; for that reason, the European Union has decided torestrict on trade flow between Cambodia and European with the purpose of demandingCambodian Government to adjust this disrespected actions to democracy (Lefevre & Thul, 2017). Even both US and EUwithdrew from assisting Cambodia’s National Election Committee for nextyear’s election, China has replaced their place and donate money and equipmentfor the election (Service, 2017).Yong Kim Eng, president of the People Center for Development and Peace (PDP),told RFA’s Khmer Service that it is not a good sign byletting a communist state to provide electoral assistance in a democratic statelike Cambodia (Service, 2017).
Therefore, it can be finalized that the election in2018 is not credible because all these appear to be a tool and a strategy thatallow Cambodian People’s Rescue Party to possess the power legally for anotherterm of ruling.