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Supporters of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) march ahead of communal elections, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 2, 2017 (AP photo by Heng Sinith).

How Much Longer Can Hun Sen Keep Cambodia’s Opposition Down?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—“It’s easy to understand Cambodian politics,” said Vanna, a 45-year-old shop owner in Phnom Penh, as he waited for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to begin its last campaign rally before the June 4 local elections. Some 90,000 candidates would be competing to represent the country’s 1,646 communes in the voting two days later. “The government does not care about us poor people. It only cares about power.”

That morning, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which has been in power for four decades, held a much larger and better-organized rally in Phnom Penh, the capital, though there were rumors that it had paid people to attend. Vanna, for example, said that he had taken the $7 offered by the CPP’s organizers, only to briefly show up to their rally and then change into his CNRP clothes. “I take their money. But my heart is with the CNRP. The CPP is very bad.” ...

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