Search form

Login - Register | FOLLOW US ON

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGOs fear Kem Ley’s death may affect free elections

Voters queue at a voting station in Battambang province during the 2013 national elections.
Voters queue at a voting station in Battambang province during the 2013 national elections. Scott Howes

NGOs fear Kem Ley’s death may affect free elections

With voter registration for next year’s commune elections due to start in less than two months, the Election Reform Alliance (ERA) is concerned the Sunday murder of political commentator Kem Ley risks jeopardising the electoral process.

The ERA, a collection of NGOs working to strengthen the electoral system, issued a statement yesterday afternoon saying Ley’s death “will have a very big impact on the political process and the upcoming electoral process”.

Koul Panha, head of election watchdog and ERA member Comfrel, said that Ley was a unique figure in Cambodia and he feared next year’s commune elections may lack an informed electorate without him.

“Even people who did not care about politics listened to him, and that starts a discussion about politics,” Panha said. “He tried to inspire people . . . to say, ‘We are the people, we have rights and the power to express an opinion’.”

He added that while Ley’s death had sparked more open discussion about politics among young Cambodians on social media, he worried that the momentum was unsustainable without the man himself.

Moreover, he feared older generations with memories of past violence would now shy away from publicly discussing politics.

San Chey, executive director of transparency NGO ANSA, said he worried Ley’s killing was another nail in the coffin of hopes of legitimate elections.

“There will be an election, but we are not sure that it will be free and fair,” Chey said, adding that Sunday’s murder was just the latest in a series of events stifling political debate.



Please, login or register to post a comment
albert wongwiwat's picture

he did not do this. his daughter may be

John Lowrie's picture

“History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
― Mark Twain

There us indeed much rhyme and reason in what is going on now to ensure future elections have their pre-ordained outcomes. People really ought to study what happened in every previous election, beginning with the 1998 election and Jeffrey Gallup's excellent analysis. Then they should all ask "Is it worth trying yet again?"

Samdech's picture

Since the first general election back in 1993 under UNTAC, and every election since, Hun Sen has used violence against all opposition to maintain absolute power. Will the next upcoming election be any different? - no. But the difference now is that CPP are overwhelmingly unpopular in the electorate now and people are not going to be intimidated as easily with the usual rhetoric of threats of violence. Hun Sen and the CPP are now fighting against a massive tide of public disenchantment and they will eventually be swept way like every other dispot regimes around the world.

Latest Video

Turkish Embassy calls for closure of Zaman schools

With an attempted coup against the government of President Recep Erdogan quashed only days ago and more than 7,000 alleged conspirators now under arrest, the Turkish ambassador to Cambodia yesterday pressed the govern

CNRP lawmakers beaten

Two opposition lawmakers, Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Sakphea were beaten unconscious during protests in Phnom Penh, as over a thousand protesters descended upon the National Assembly.

Student authors discuss "The Cambodian Economy"

Student authors discuss "The Cambodian Economy"

Students at Phnom Penh's Liger Learning Center have written and published a new book, "The Cambodian Economy".