Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed the election will go ahead next year regardless of whether foreign donors withdraw their support, saying no one can hold democracy hostage.
Mr Hun Sen was speaking to more than 10,000 workers in Phnom Penh’s Por Senchey district, where he appealed for them to support the ruling CPP at next year’s polls.
His comments came after the European Union suspended funding for the 2018 election and said the vote would not be credible following the dissolution of the opposition CNRP.
“I would like to send the message that even without their participation, the election will still go ahead,” he said. “Multiparty democracy cannot be held hostage by anyone.”
“People are already prepared to vote and the government has enough capital for the electoral process,” Mr Hun Sen added.
Since the dissolution of the CNRP last month, western countries have threatened to cut off electoral aid and assistance to the government, but allies such as China, Japan, South Korea and Russia continue to support the electoral process in Cambodia.
The United States last month suspended funding for the election. It later said it would impose visa sanctions on those involved in the government’s actions to undermine democracy.
Mr Hun Sen said only 118 senior CNRP members have been banned from voting since the CNRP was dissolved, meaning the majority of the public can still vote in the election next year.
“The country has managed to maintain genuine democracy,” he said.
Mr Hun Sen added that the National Assembly must complete its five-year term following each election and cannot be dissolved before the mandate is up, according to the constitution.
“No one has the right to dissolve the National Assembly, even parliament itself or the Prime Minister,” he said.
Kang Savang, an election observer at Comfrel, said the government is not concerned about the loss of EU election funding because of the continuing support from China, Russia and Japan.
“The important issue is that a legitimate election should be recognised by the international community, which seems to be concerned with the current situation,” Mr Savang said.
Mr Savang said multiparty democracy is a success when people can vote in free and fair elections.
“We have seen some people banned from politics,” Mr Savang said.
Mr Hun Sen said Cambodia would not be required to have a signature from the United Nations president to recognise the legitimate electoral process next year.