PHNOM PENH: Cambodia began registering political parties on Monday for a July general election which long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen is poised to win after the Supreme Court dissolved the main opposition party.
The National Election Committee (NEC) said Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party was the first to register, along with the little-known, pro-government Cambodian Youth Party.
Registration will end on May 14.
“Many political parties will register, 16 parties have collected forms to fill in,” Dim Sovannarom, a spokesman for the NEC, told Reuters.
The registration comes amid a campaign by Hun Sen against his critics, including members of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), in what opponents say is a bid to prolong his leadership after 33 years in office.
The CNRP was dissolved and its lawmakers banned from politics in November after the Supreme Court ruled that it had tried to overthrow the government with the help from the United States. Both the CNRP and the United States deny the accusation.
The CNRP’s dissolution was followed by the arrest of its leader Kem Sokha.
Hun Sen defended the July election and said it would involve multiple political parties with different political viewpoints, adding that the vote would take place as planned on July 29.
“The process of multi-party democracy still continues,” Hun Sen said.
Mu Sochua, a deputy leader of the CNRP, said the general election would not be fair.
“No CNRP, no free and fair election, means that the next government will be illegitimate,” Mu Sochua said.