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Supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party during a campaign rally ahead of local elections, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, May 28, 2017 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

Can a Beleaguered Opposition Prevail in Cambodia’s Local Elections?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Cambodia will hold local elections Sunday, but the political opposition has already taken a beating in a campaign that is viewed as a precursor to the country’s 2018 general elections. Twelve political parties are technically in the race, with nearly 90,000 candidates competing to represent 1,646 communes, or clusters of villages, across Cambodia. However, the election is mainly a contest between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which Prime Minister Hun Sen has led for three decades, and the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the country’s main opposition group.

Instead of being an indicator of a thriving democracy, observers say that the polls are the latest sign of Hun Sen’s longstanding effort to rid the country of his political opponents. ...

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