The Supreme Court of Cambodia on Thursday dissolved the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and imposed ban on 118 of its members from politics for five years.
Interestingly, the ruling was delivered by a judge who is also a member of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
The dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) effectively brought One-party Rule as there will be no significant opposition party to challenge Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (pictured above) and his party in 2018 national elections.
The CNRP had won 44.5% of the vote in the 2013 legislative election and 43.8% in the 2017 local/sangkat elections held on 4 June 2017.
“Today marks the end of true democracy in Cambodia,” said CNRP Vice President Mu Sochua, who fled Cambodia in early October.
The decision is the latest in a series of moves against the main opposition party.
Kem Sokha, leader of the CNRP, was jailed in early September on charges of treason for allegedly trying to topple the Hun Sen government with the United States’ assistance.
Cambodia is likely to face international isolation. Reacting sharply to the developments, the White House in a statement stated, “The United States will take concrete steps to respond to the Cambodian government’s deeply regrettable actions. As a first step, we will terminate support for the Cambodian National Election Committee and its administration of the upcoming 2018 national election. On current course next year’s election will not be legitimate, free, or fair.”
The European Union stated, “An electoral process from which the main opposition party has been arbitrarily excluded is not legitimate. The enforced dissolution of the CNRP effectively disenfranchises all those who gave the party their support in the elections in 2013 and 2017. A situation in which all parties, including the CNRP, their leaders and their supporters are able to carry out freely their legitimate functions, must be swiftly restored.”
The European Union has further stated that “Respect of fundamental human rights is a prerequisite for Cambodia to continue to benefit from the EU’s preferential Everything But Arms scheme.”