This weekend I am in Phnom Penh Cambodia. Cambodia’s national elections are Sunday and tensions are running high among two parties. Threat of violence hangs in the air and the leaders have requested U.N supervision of the election, as it has already been deemed an unfair election. They have also requested U.N. help should post-election violence break out.
I stumbled onto the demonstrations Thursday night, and found them again on Friday morning. The elections mean a lot to the people and excitement can be found everywhere.
In a quick rundown, The Cambodian People’s Party helped free the country from Pol Pot and the genocide of the Khmer Rouge where up to three million people, 40% of the country’s population, was killed. They have been the ruling party ever since and have grown more and more corrupt. The United States no longer gives aide to the country due to the misuse of funds, but only support the country through American’s working with non-government organizations (NGO’s).
The Cambodian National Rescue Party is a party of younger people demanding more rights and better conditions. They do not have the same loyalties to the Cambodian People’s Party as their parents and are seeking social and work reforms as well as more rights. Their leader, Sam Rainsy, returned to the country after five years of exile a week ago to be greeted by over 100,000 people gathered for his return. He has given the party a boost, though he is not being allowed to run for office.
The ruling party, the Cambodian Peoples Party, has control of all media and the army. Last month they stripped the opposing party of all their parliament seats, accusing them of violating parliament rules by forming a new party. The ruling party has also duplicated voters names of their own party while deleting the opposition party voters for various reasons. There have been many other reported corruptions. One man I talked to said they were using state funds to buy votes in various ways.
To see short video’s of the demonstrations click here: Lightfoot Diaries Facebook
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