After winning what is said to be a landslide victory in Sunday’s polls, caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Thursday that new members to the National Assembly would be confirmed, and a new government created by the third week of September.
However, a leader of a former opposition party said he would have trouble getting legitimacy on the international stage.
While addressing factory workers in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district, the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) president called on officials at all levels to serve the people honestly.
Despite having no official results from the National Election Committee (NEC), Hun Sen said the National Assembly members would be sworn in on September 19 and 20.
“I am in the current position of Prime Minister and the future Prime Minister of the next government. As planned, it will be formed on September 20. This is the plan – on the evening of September 19, the national assembly will sit for the first time after the oath session is conducted."
“And on September 21, the first Council of Ministers meeting will be held,” he said. Additionally, he told officials to start improving their service to the people immediately.
“I would like to appeal to the members of the CPP, our burden is doubled in this sixth mandate. We have to serve the people honestly, be the honest slaves of the people.
“People put their trust in the CPP, so they do not need to wait for the new government. From now, return to the local [positions] and serve the people and solve their problems,” he said.
But Cheam Channy, a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker, claimed that besides communist countries recognising Hun Sen’s regime, democratic ones will make it difficult for him to gain legitimacy.
“This government can be formed, but the question is whether it is recognised by the national and international community or not. Western countries, such as those of the European Union (EU) will not recognise it. It will be difficult to form a new government,” he claimed.
Nonetheless, Channy noted that Hun Sen had already been invited to visit the EU in October in order to join an Asia-Europe summit. He said many opposition supporters would protest during his visit there.
Paul Chambers, a lecturer and special adviser for international affairs at Naresuan University, said the very essence of representative democracy is that there exists a free and fair electoral system in which competing political parties can evenly compete.
“In Cambodia, a major opposition party was dissolved, the chief opposition leader was imprisoned, and other opposition politicians were forced into exile. Voters were encouraged and informally threatened to vote for Hun Sen’s CPP with the threat of criminal charges hanging over them,” he told The Post.
He claimed that vote counting centres were controlled by CPP appointees as was the Election Commission.
“In such an environment, Cambodia’s general election lacked sufficient legitimacy to be considered free and fair."
“Thus, rather than be a representative of democracy, Cambodia since the election is an autocracy masked by the charade of democratic appearances,” he claimed.