Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New conditions for the approaching poll?

Asia Times reports that the medium- and smallsized opposition parties in Cambodia might form a coalition to compete with the ruling Cambodian People's Party, CPP, in July's election. The three main opposition parties taking part in the discussion on forming a coalition are the Sam Rainsy Party, SRP, the Human Rights Party, HRP, and the Norodom Ranariddh Party, NRP.

The major oppostion party, SRP, has been in the opposition for over ten years. According to Asia Times, it still does not represent a real democratic challenge to the CPP. It has also had problems with internal discord in recent years.

The HRP was formed in July last year by the founder of Cambodian Center for Human Rights, CCHR, Kem Sokha. Several well known political figures have since joined the party. Sokha has been imprisoned for criticizing Prime Minister Huns Sen's policies in public, and has a reputation for fighting corruption and human rights abuses.

The NRP was formed in 2006 by Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the leading party founder of the royalist Funcinpec party. Prince Ranariddh left the Funcinpec party, who is currently in coalition with the CPP, and formed the NRP after some time of internal conflicts that undermined the formerly very strong Funcinpec. In the 1993 election Funcinpec was the top vote recipient. From 1993 until the CPP coup in 1997 Cambodia had two Prime Ministers: First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Hun Sen's party, the CPP has been accused of harrassing and threatening opposition party members reports Asia Times. The president of CCHR, Ou Virak, sais that even if the upcoming election will have a better environment than previous, it will still not be free and fair by international standards. He tells Asia Times that opposition acitivists have recieved threats in recent months, and that a few have even been killed under mysterious circumstances.

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