Currently Cambodia is preparing for its general elections due to be held on July 29. It appears that some opposition groups and certain NGOs are working hand-in-glove with the now defunct CNRP to disrupt this election. They are also trying to resurrect CNRP and are advocating for the 118 opposition politicians banned from politics to be given a pardon so that they can participate in the upcoming general election.
Koul Panha, executive director of COMFREL, went on Radio Free Asia on April 5 and appealed to international election observers to exercise caution before making a decision to observe the July 29 election. He attempted to dissuade them from carrying out their impartial work.
Mr Panha also told RFA that COMFREL was hesitant to observe the election and was of two minds over it. It is obviously very clear that this statement was intended to create an uncertain election environment and to raise questions concerning the integrity of this electoral process – ultimately setting the stage for the opposition to reject the election result. This is nothing new and is an old tactic used by COMFREL in past elections.
In July 2013, COMFREL colluded with a few international and local NGOs to spread rumors that the indelible ink could be washed off, and that some 1.25 million voters’ names were deleted from the voter lists. These allegations and exaggerations by Mr Panha and COMFREL, as well as some pro-opposition-civil society organisations, were designed with a clear objective to create the excuses and an opportunity for the opposition party to protest against the regime and hence, topple the elected government leadership in a non-democratic manner.
What will Mr Panha together with some foreign NGOs and banned politicians prepare to do in order to subvert, destroy and discredit the upcoming general election in Cambodia?
Based on a source from the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), who requested anonymity, since the Situation War Room, which was illegally created during the 2013 election and 2017 commune/sangkat elections, no longer exists in Cambodia, this Election War Room will be moved to Bangkok. A point to note is that Mr Panha has been appointed as the new chairperson of ANFREL and has an office in Bangkok.
ANFREL has decided to offer office space to Cambodian civil society and at present, it is unknown how many NGOs from Cambodia will join this Election War Room. However, what is predicted is that Mr Panha and COMFREL will reach out to their pro-opposition-network in Cambodia so as to derail, subvert and discredit the upcoming electoral process and consequently, urge the international community to reject the election result by citing the absence of the now-defunct opposition party.
It seems ANFREL will convene a meeting in Bangkok this month with the presence of a number of foreign NGOs and relevant people in order to prepare their illegal plan supported by dirty tactics and manoeuvers so as to subvert and discredit the election in Cambodia. This meeting will use the theme “Strengthening Democracy and Election” as a shield “to cover up the hidden agenda”. ANFREL will also have closed door meetings with activists in small groups separately in order to listen to their reports on monitoring the Cambodian political situation after the CNRP dissolution, as well as to continue to monitor anti-government movements both inside and outside Cambodia.
The source further stated that these civil society groups will plan to organise more and larger anti-government movements to add pressure on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government to reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling and therefore allow the defunct CNRP to survive, as well as to remove the ban on the former 118 members of this defunct party and allow them to participate in the election.
ANFREL under Koul Panha is the New War Room. The political and funding support to create this War Room outside Cambodia is a continuous and ill-intended plan against Cambodia.
Pol Peanorin – Phnom Penh.