The National Election Committee (NEC) and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) reacted strongly on Thursday to a statement from Human Rights Watch (HRW) calling the July 29 general election “not genuine”.
The NEC called the statement politically motivated while a CPP leader said the watchdog had no right to determine the fate of the Kingdom’s people, and that its comment was an attack on his party.
In the four-page document released on Thursday, HRW said Cambodians were being denied the right to chose their government, citing that the European Union (EU), United States and Japan have all announced that they will not send observers.
The report called into question the “arbitrary dissolution of the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), surveillance, intimidation, detention and politically motivated prosecution of key opposition members,” adding that it was concerned over the crackdown on independent media, and laws restricting free speech.
Also questioned were the independence of the NEC, and the use of military and police officials in the CPP’s campaign.
HRW Asia director Brad Adams said in the statement: “The Cambodian government over the past year has systematically cracked down on independent and opposition voices to ensure that the ruling party faces no obstacles to total political control.”
NEC deputy secretary-general Som Sorida said the document was “politically motivated”. “In fact, the report is politically motivated as the NEC is a law enforcement institution.”
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the international human rights organisation has no right to evaluate the election in Cambodia. He said the body has “ill-intentions” toward Cambodia and the CPP in particular.
“There will be no foreign evaluation to determine the fate of the Cambodian people. Only Cambodians can determine the fate of the Kingdom.
“The HRW has ill intentions toward the CPP because his [Brad Adams’] brain determines that the CPP is a communist party, and close with the Communist Party of China. That is why it is not happy,” Eysan said.