“PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — It’s election season in Cambodia, and the fireflies are out.
Cambodians use that term — “ampil ampik,” in the Khmer language — to refer to little-known political parties that flash onto the scene shortly before an election, then fade back into obscurity.
Twenty parties, some just a few months old, will be on the ballot when national elections are held this month. But most voters will have heard of only one: the Cambodian People’s Party, led by Hun Sen, the authoritarian prime minister.
Mr. Hun Sen has had no viable opposition since November, when the Cambodia National Rescue Party — which almost won the 2013 election — was dissolved by a court packed with his loyalists. The United Nations special rapporteur on Cambodia, Rhona Smith, and numerous rights groups have said the July 29 vote will not be legitimate.
In response, the government points to such obscure entities as the Dharmacracy Party, the Khmer Will Party and the New Light Party (whose platform is to promote “Cambodia’s natural, linguistic and alphabetical wonders”).
“If you have only one political party, you cannot say ‘multiparty,’ but we have 20 political parties,” said Dim Sovannarom, a spokesman for the National Election Committee.
Mr. Hun Sen, who has been in power since 1985, is clearly concerned that Cambodians will see it differently. In May, he warned against using the terms “fireflies” or “disembodied ghosts,” another figure of speech sometimes applied to minor parties.”
Source: As Vote Nears, Cambodia’s Leader Has Opponents, but No Competition – The New York Times
Excellent reporting by Julia Wallace, thank you. She wrote: “The leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, or C.N.R.P., have been jailed or driven into exile, and lower-ranking members were harassed into joining Mr. Hun Sen’s party or getting out of politics. Mr. Hun Sen has also overseen a crackdown on the press. The United States and the European Union, which have helped fund past Cambodian elections, refused this year, saying that the vote will not be credible.” What a sorry picture, and a sorry mess. Unfortunately, the United States contributed to this mess, in ways that I am not qualified to list, but include our bombing of the country, and probably assassinating its leaders, even their good ones, just because they were communist. Is there a good book to cover the modern devastation of this once proud and vibrant country?
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com
“Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia has been in power for more than 30 years. On Wednesday, he vowed to stay in power. “After witnessing the treasonous acts of some Cambodians in recent days,” he said, “I have decided to continue my job for another 10 years.” Citizens might have thought it was up to them to decide, in general elections next year, who will govern their country. Mr. Hun Sen has set them straight: He has no intention of losing that election or future ones to an opposition that did better than expected in the last vote in 2013. If this means charging opposition leaders with treason, so be it.”
Source: Cambodia’s Democracy Betrayed – The New York Times