A prominent opposition leader won’t be on the ballot in July’s national elections, effectively ruling out his candidacy for Parliament.
Cambodia’s National Election Committee has again determined that a prominent opposition leader won’t be on the ballot in July’s national elections, effectively ruling out his candidacy for Parliament.
Sam Rainsy fled Cambodia in 2009 after the Cambodian government accused him of inciting unrest in the areas along the nation’s border with Vietnam. He was convicted in absentia and is currently living in Paris in self-imposed exile to avoid a prison sentence of up to 12 years. Last week, after questions were raised about Mr. Rainsy’s status, the National Election Committee reiterated that as a convicted felon he was removed from the official voter list and thus is ineligible to run for office.
The United States has in the past expressed its concerns over both Mr. Rainsy’s case and Cambodia’s electoral system in general. Free and fair elections require a legitimate choice of candidates and an equal playing field for all political participants and parties. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pressed for greater democracy in discussions with senior Cambodian Prime officials.
We are concerned by the National Election Committee’s decision and we call on the Cambodian government to commit to free and fair elections. With Mr. Rainsy’s party recently merging with another opposition party to form a united front in the upcoming elections, his treatment has struck many as being politically motivated rather than adhering to the rule of law.
By allowing the widest possible range of candidates – including opposition leadership – to compete on a fair and equal footing in the July 2013 national elections, Cambodia’s government can demonstrate its commitment to true multiparty democracy.