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.