Prime Minister Hun Sen dissolved Cambodia’s opposition party ahead of 2018 elections to prevent it from repeating its 2013 success.
Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party now utterly dominate Cambodia, after the CPP won control of the entire lower house of parliament in elections in July 2018. The regime had, of course, ensured in advance that the CPP would sweep the vote, the culmination of Hun Sen’s increasingly brazen repression.
With political regression all but complete, what is left for the remnants of the Cambodian opposition party? How will key international donors and foreign countries respond, and what’s next for Hun Sen himself?
The Cambodia National Rescue Party, or CNRP, which was officially dissolved by the country’s top court in November 2017, and other opposition forces can expect more efforts to throttle them. Although Cambodia still maintains a more vibrant civil society and media than, say, Laos, Hun Sen will likely keep up his crackdown, while adapting his party for an eventual shift at the top, a hard task in a country he has ruled for three decades.
The opposition has few good options. Before the election, it seemed there was some possibility that Hun Sen, as he has in the past, might try and cool tensions after the vote, perhaps by co-opting some opposition figures, such as one of the CNRP leaders, Sam Rainsy. But that seems unlikely now.