Uneven Playing Field as Splintered Opposition Parties Prepare for 2022 Commune Elections

Yem Ponhearith , the president of the Kampuchea Niyum Party, speaks during International Human Rights' Day celebrations at his party's headquarters in Phnom Penh, December 10, 2021. CamboJA/ Khuon Narim

With the main opposition CNRP banned and one of its former leaders, Kem Sokha, facing trial on treason charges in January, observers say next year’s commune elections will likely be dominated by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s long-ruling CPP.

Kem Sokha’s message shows Rainsy-Sokha split after Candlelight Party congress

Former CNRP president Sam Rainsy (Center Right) and vice president Kem Sokha greet supporters during Rainsy's 2013 homecoming to Phnom Penh. Picture taken July 19, 2013. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang

Former president of the outlawed opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Kem Sokha has put distance between himself and exiled political figure Sam Rainsy, saying the two men “are not the same person”. Sokha pointed to the return of Rainsy’s former Candlelight Party as a sign of the political split between the two opposition leaders.

With no credible opposition, minor parties prepare for non-competitive elections

Motorists drive past the Khmer Will Party's headquarters in Phnom Penh, July 12, 2021. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang

Ou Chanrath, the founder of the newly formed Cambodia Reform Party (CRP) and a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker, said that party officials had been repeatedly questioned by authorities while collecting fingerprints to submit to the Ministry of Interior so that the party can compete in the upcoming commune elections.

Public reluctant to trust the independence of new NEC president

Prach Chan (R), the new chairman of the National Election Committee, receives the NEC seal from Minister of the Royal Palace Kong Sam Ol at a ceremony in Phnom Penh, June 30, 2021.CamboJA/ Panha Chhorpoan

The new chairman of the National Election Committee (NEC) pledged his commitment to ensuring that Cambodia’s upcoming commune and national elections are free and fair amid doubts from civil society groups about the former CPP lawmaker’s independence.

Former ruling party lawmaker selected as new NEC chairman

Prach Chan, the new chairman of the National Election Committee, is seen on live television at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, June 24. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang

The National Assembly on Thursday voted to appoint former provincial governor Prach Chan as the new chairman of the National Election Committee (NEC) to replace Sik Bun Hok, who resigned on June 3 due to health issues.