When Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy returned to Phnom Penh in July 2013 after nearly four years of self-imposed exile, more than 100,000 people lined the city’s streets to greet him. Rainsy, who had received a lengthy prison sentence in absentia on politically motivated charges, arrived in the capital just days after being granted a royal pardon – and only nine days ahead of the country’s July 28 general election. Surrounded by a throng of adoring Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) supporters, Rainsy took to a stage in Freedom Park where he vowed to put an end to the authoritarian and kleptocratic rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen: the one-eyed former Khmer Rouge guerrilla who has stood at his country’s helm since 1985, making him one of the world’s longest-serving leaders. Amidst widespread (and credible) accusations of electoral irregularities and fraud, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) declared a narrow win in the July 28 poll. Rejecting the official results, Rainsy proclaimed that his party would boycott parliament until the government agreed to a recount, an independent investigation, or a new election. The CPP refused and the CNRP took its cause to the streets…
My profile of veteran opposition parliamentarian Son Chhay appeared in Australia’s The Monthly in March 2014. A Q&A with Son also appeared before the 2013 election in the Toronto Star‘s World Weekly section. Opposition protests and the government’s totalitarian response is explored in a recent Next City article. You can also read about a horrific night of post-election violence in the Southeast Asia Globe.
“PHNOM PENH’S PROTEST PARK BECOMES A BATTLEGROUND”
Next City – Resilient Cities
August 4, 2014
“DEADLY CLASHES IN PHNOM PENH”
Southeast Asia Globe
September 16, 2013