News / Asia

International Pressure Can Prevent Cambodian Political Stalemate, Analysts Say

President of National Rescue Party Sam Rainsy, center, gives a speech during a public forum on the topic of the election of July 28, at their party's office in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 31, 2013.
President of National Rescue Party Sam Rainsy, center, gives a speech during a public forum on the topic of the election of July 28, at their party's office in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 31, 2013.
As a political deadlock over last month’s Cambodian election results becomes more likely, experts in the United States say international pressure may be the best way to hasten the formation of a new Cambodian government.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) says it will not concede the elections, which officials from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) say they won.

The stalemate could result in an opposition boycott of the first National Assembly meeting two months from now, making the formation of a new government legally impossible.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has called for public demonstrations if an independent investigation is not held into allegations of irregularities, which he says cost the opposition the election.

It remains unclear how much the international community can do, however, or how much the ruling party and Prime Minister Hun Sen will allow.

John Ciorciari, a public policy professor at the University of Michigan says the CPP is not likely to give up control of the process.

“It is very likely that a U.N. inquiry would uncover some evidence of fraud in Cambodia's recent elections. That would raise pressure on the CPP to re-run the election or hand over more seats. For that reason, the CPP will probably not agree to any inquiry in which it is not represented," said Ciorciari.

Both sides can find a compromise that won’t end in “a head-on collision in the streets,” he said. “The CPP could offer appointments, pledges of specific policy reforms, or take other steps short of agreeing to a full U.N. inquiry. The CNRP's best strategy is to maintain pressure on the government through peaceful protests and calls for an inquiry while negotiating privately with CPP leaders for concessions. Any CNRP protests have to remain entirely peaceful to avoid justifying a crackdown.”

The CPP may have difficulty bringing opposition lawmakers over to its side with incentives, he said. And “a prolonged period without a government is not in the country’s interest.” However, the CPP does not see the U.N. or Western nations as “honest brokers, which makes it hard for them to play mediating roles,” he said.

Shihoko Goto, a researcher at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a policy research organization in Washington, said Cambodians still have faith in the democratic process, so calls for a recount should be taken seriously.

“The international community, including the United States, could pressure the Hun Sen government to do so," said Goto.

A continued stand-off could lead to unrest, she said, and that could in turn lead to a crackdown. “While the king has called for post-election harmony, there is real fear of the government taking action against protesters. This should be avoided at all costs. Yet there is unfortunately little appetite from the international community to take preemptive measures at this stage, as they expect any unresolved issues over election results to be handled domestically.”

Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch, told VOA Khmer the CPP is “trying to run a one-party state.” And, he says, donors should make sure that their aid does not go to a government formed from a “stolen election.”

“It really depends on politics. Is the ruling party strong enough to keep foreigners or independent people and institutions out of the review process? I think if Cambodian donors insist on it, the Cambodian government has no choice but to allow it," said Adams.

Morana Song, a U.N. spokeswoman, said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is following the situation in the country closely.

“The United Nations encourages the competent authorities to adjudicate complaints fairly and transparently, with the ultimate aim of ensuring the accurate determination of, and respect for, the will of the Cambodian people,” Song said in an email.

This report was originally prepared by the VOA Khmer Service

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Countries Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs