The United States is deeply concerned about the amendments to Cambodia’s Law on Political Parties passed by the National Assembly on February 20 with little consultation or public debate. The amendments give the government broad authority to restrict freedom of expression and the legitimate activities of political parties and, under vaguely defined circumstances, to dissolve them.
Cambodia’s Constitution establishes the country as a liberal, multi-party democracy and guarantees its citizens the right to form political parties. Political parties play a critical role in every democracy. They are an important means by which the will of the people is carried out through governance and legislation.
Cambodians can take pride in their country’s development over the past 25 years: Cambodia has held five national elections, and the ongoing voter registration process holds out the prospect of a sixth. Any government action to ban or restrict parties under the new amendments would constitute a significant setback for Cambodia’s political development and would seriously call into question the legitimacy of the upcoming elections.
We call on the government of Cambodia to take all necessary steps to ensure that the electoral campaigns and elections in 2017 and 2018 are free, open, and transparent, that all political parties have the opportunity to compete on an equal basis.