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Korean Human Rights Forum Congratulates PM on Win, Despite Having Supported CNRP in the Past

SEOUL: While the official election results are not to be released until August, Prime Minister Hun Sen has received scores of congratulations from foreign dignitaries and organizations on his Cambodian People’s Party landslide victory on Sunday. Following the election, the PM received congratulations from the Prime Ministers of Laos and Vietnam and a letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Interestingly, the South Korean-based Asia Human Rights Peace Forum (AHPF) also sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen acknowledging the CPP's victory and congratulating him on the win. The AHPF had previously held rallies in South Korea for the now-dissolved CNRP, which greatly opposed the reigning Cambodian government. The organization went so far as to award Sam Rainsy, opposition leader and political foe of Prime Minister Hun Sen, a “Champion of Democracy in Cambodia” in 2019.

In a letter from July 26, AHPF President Cho Ji-yun congratulated the Prime Minister on leading his party to victory in the 7th National Assembly election on July 23 and wished Cambodia continued growth.

Former president of the CNRP youth movement, Yim Sinorn, became undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Labor after renouncing his ties to Sam Rainsy in April. He told EAC News that the AHFP’s letter is a true sign of international acceptance and recognition of Prime Minister Hun Sen as the true legitimate leader of Cambodia.

He said, "Having a foreign organization that works directly in the field of democracy, peace and human rights show its support for the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Cambodian People's Party shows the progress of democracy in Cambodia that is internationally recognized.”

Lao Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone sent Prime Minister Hun Sen a Telegram message of congratulations the day after the election while Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh made a phone call that same day. On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a letter of congratulations to the Prime Minister and praised him for Cambodia’s political stability and economic development. Prime Minister Hun Sen tweeted his thanks on Wednesday to all three premiers, saying that their messages were warmly received and a gesture of friendship among the neighboring countries.

The July 23 election saw nearly 85% of Cambodia’s registered voters turn out to vote for one of eighteen parties. The long-reigning Cambodian People’s Party is said to have garnered 6.3 million of the 8.2 million votes while royalist party FUNCINPEC placed second, with just over 716,000. The NEC reported 440,000 spoiled ballots, presumably invalidated in protest of this year’s decision not to allow the opposition Candlelight Party to participate in the election.

The US, the European Union and Australia had already declared the election as “neither free nor fair” before it had begun due to alleged harassment and suppression of the opposition, which they say culminated in the barring of the Candlelight Party from the ballot. However, the Cambodian government boasted thousands of domestic and hundreds of international observers from countries like China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan-all of whom agreed the election was conducted in a transparent and democratic manner, free of coercion, intimidation or voter fraud. The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the 2023 general election truly reflects the maturity of Cambodia's democracy.

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