(Phnom Penh): Currently, Cambodia is preparing to organize the Election of Members of National Assembly for Sixth Mandate on 29 July 2018. It appears that some opposition groups and election related civil society in cooperation with the leadership of defunct Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) are working to destroy this election by attempting to resurrect the CNRP and 118 politicians who were legally banned from politics to gain their right to participate in the upcoming election.
As the leadership of defunct CNRP were mostly barred from competing in the upcoming Cambodian election, they are persisting by all means to interfere in the election and destroy the democratic process. Since they have no real stake in this election, they will do anything they can to subvert, manipulate and discredit this electoral process.
Mr. KOUL Panha, Executive Director of Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL), stated via Radio Free Asia on April 5, 2018, in an attempt to dissuade international observers by stating that they should be very cautious before they decide to observe the July 2018 election in Cambodia. He also added that COMFREL is extremely hesitant to decide as to whether or not to observe this election.
It is cristal clear that his statement was intended to create an uncertain election environment and to raise questions concerning the integrity of this electoral process, and ultimately setting the stage for the opposition to reject the election result. And this is nothing new but it was the old tactic used by Mr. KOUL Panha and COMFREL in past elections especially in the July 2013 general election. COMFREL acted hand in glove with some foreign international and local non-governmental organizations 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. KOUL Panha and COMFREL, as well as some pro-opposition-civil society organizations, 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 RGC leadership in a non-democratic manner.
What will Mr. KOUL Panha with some foreign civil society and the banned politicians prepare to do in order to subvert, destroy and discredit the upcoming general election in Cambodia?
- Based on a source who requested anonymity from the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), 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 station in Bangkok. Mr. KOUL Panha was appointed as a new Chairperson of ANFREL which has his office in Bangkok thanks to his important role in past election affairs and succeeded in polluting and intoxicating the past electoral environment.
ANFREL has decided to offer one office to Cambodian civil society. At present, it is unknown how many non-governmental organizations from Cambodia will join this Situation War Room. However, what is predicted is that Mr. KOUL 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, urging the international community to reject the election result by using different pretext and allegations specially the absence of defunct opposition party.
- The same anonymous source told that, Mr. KOUL Panha was appointed as Chairperson of ANFREL, and former Chairperson was tasked to work for another organization named Asia Democracy Network. The latter organization is of major relevance as it is preparing plan to achieve the goal to destroy this upcoming general election. Not only Mr. KOUL Panha alone, but also Mr. Kouy Bunroeun, former Vice President of National Election Committee (NEC), have been disclosed by the source that he is closely working with Mr. KOUL Panha and other relevant people in order to come up with a plan to interfere in the upcoming election according to the instruction and order from their “foreign boss” and the banned politicians, as well as the traitors in exile who are currently working to destroy the interest of the nation and its people.
- Under KOUL Panha, 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.
Based on a source from another ANFREL staff, this meeting will use the theme “Strengthening Democracy and Election” as a shield “to cover up the hidden agenda”. It was added by the same source that apart from the official planned agenda, this meeting will publicly broadcast as to give the appearance of transparency and to hide their real strategy of interfering in the election. 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 organize more and larger anti-government movements to add pressure on Prime Minister Hun Sen-led-Government so as to meet the demand of the opposition group which is to reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling and therefore, allowing the defunct CNRP to survive as well as to remove the ban of former 118 members of this defunct party to participate in the election.
- In order to put further pressure from outside the country, ANFREL, headed by KOUL Panha, is publicly criticizing the National Election Committee, stating it is not reliable as there is no CNRP representative and therefore should be reformed. ANFREL will be used to evaluate and discredit the performance and effectiveness of NEC. They will use the same tactic as they did in the past before they move to manipulate, exaggerate, fabricate, and finally spreading misinformation and disinformation surrounding the electoral process in Cambodia. They pretend to pay great attention to the transparent, fair, neutral, and reliable election process, and yet the reality is that they only create these allegations in order to pave the way for the opposition group to use it as a stepping stone to turn down the election result. And starting from this chaos and tension that they stoke, protest and strike will follow that ultimately lead to the overthrow of legitimate regime and leader through a color revolution which is an undemocratic form of power grabbing.
- Based on the source from its staff, to carry out these plans, ANFREL has already received sufficient fund and is currently preparing the blueprint; however, the source did not disclose the origin from which the funds to be used to destroy and discredit the election in Cambodia came from. Currently, their most important objective is to prejudge everything and consequently, any evaluation on social and political environment in Cambodia must be unstable, and therefore the election must be postponed. This delay is nothing but a time buying tactic to help revive the defunct CNRP to take part in the election. Both the banned politicians and some NGOs claim that Cambodia is plunging in a deep political crisis and the political situation is deteriorating; they went to the length of warning that Cambodia would encounter serious crisis if the international community stops providing support and purchasing products from Cambodia.
Given his new additional role, being the Chairperson of ANFREL, it is clear that the past activities of KOUL Panha and COMFREL are not in the interest of Cambodia and Cambodians, but they are merely acting upon the order from some foreign power who, for their own strategic geo-political interests, not only do not want the Cambodian people to live in peace, but also to force Cambodia to accept their so-called perfect democracy which in fact, even in their own country, they could not succeed in putting it into practice. And this also clearly reflects that some western countries who used to meddle into the internal affairs of Cambodia have not yet given up their dark schemes for a regime change and a change of country’s leader whom they are dissatisfied with.
ANFREL under Koul Panha is a New War Room. The political and funding support to create this War Room outside Cambodia is a continuous and ill-intended plan against Cambodia. Mr. KOUL Panha, being a citizen of Cambodia, and his organization who have been serving foreign ambition in detrimental to his own country’s supreme interest are crystal clear and irrefutable. Their new strategy that they employ is to use the pro-opposition civil society based in Cambodia and funded by USAID – IDI (Inclusive Development International) just to name a few to disturb, boycott and ultimately discredit the general election to be held on July 29, 2018. (Pol Peanorin)