ANFREL Pre-Election Assessment Mission Report: 2023 Cambodian General Election

ANFREL released its pre-election assessment mission report on the 2023 Cambodian General Election on 5 July 2023. ANFREL found that the elections scheduled for 23 July 2023 in Cambodia will continue to fall short of being free and fair.

Read the executive summary of the report below:


The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) deployed a team of three electoral analysts to conduct a pre-election assessment mission in Cambodia from 1 to 10 May 2023 by conducting over 50 interviews with key election stakeholders in the country. The assessment follows our methodology that is guided by international standards for elections, our analysts follow the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and the Code of Conduct for International Election Observers.

The assessment of the legal framework revealed significant gaps that require attention and improvement. An electoral legal framework that guarantees fundamental human rights and enables free and fair political participation is crucial. Continued dialogue and cooperation between the Cambodian government, civil society organizations, and the international community are essential for creating a robust and democratic electoral framework that upholds fairness, accountability, and respect for human rights.

The administration of elections, overseen by the National Election Committee (NEC), plays a vital role in ensuring free, accurate, and fair electoral processes. However, concerns regarding the independence and neutrality of the NEC persist. Evidence suggests a clear bias towards the ruling Cambodian People’s Party which undermines the integrity of the electoral process. Inclusivity within the electoral administration framework and an independent appointment process must be implemented to strengthen the integrity and credibility of future elections.

The assessment highlighted a deteriorating political landscape in Cambodia. The exclusion of the Candlelight Party from participating in the upcoming elections serves as a stark example of the highly restricted political space and the severe limitations imposed on opposition parties. The disqualification of the party further exacerbates the imbalanced and unfair political environment, as it leaves little room for opposition voices to compete on an equal footing with the ruling party.
There are growing concerns about the diminishing scope of civil society and the deliberate targeting of human rights defenders and activists. It is of utmost significance to counteract the constriction of civic space so that civil society can actively participate in the electoral process without fear or reprisal.

The assessment also revealed limitations on media freedom and access to information. Independent media faces restrictions, journalists experience harassment, and state-controlled media dominate the information landscape. Promoting media pluralism, protecting journalists’ rights, and ensuring equitable access to information for all political actors and citizens are essential in order to ensure a free and fair electoral process.

Furthermore, the assessment highlighted the limited participation and representation of marginalized sectors, including women, ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and youth. Discriminatory practices and insufficient representation hinder their meaningful engagement in the electoral process. Measures must be implemented to enhance the inclusion and participation of marginalized sectors, fostering a more inclusive and representative democracy.

In conclusion, the assessment unequivocally concludes that the elections scheduled for July 2023 in Cambodia will continue to fall short of being free and fair. The findings reveal significant flaws in all aspects. These deep-rooted issues, combined with a clear bias towards the ruling party, undermine the principles of democracy and compromise the integrity and credibility of the electoral process. Urgent and decisive action is necessary from the Cambodian authorities to rectify these deficiencies and ensure that future elections genuinely uphold the principles of fairness, accountability, and respect for human rights. Failure to address these concerns will perpetuate a distorted and undemocratic electoral process that fails to reflect the will and aspirations of the Cambodian people.

Read the full report below: ANFREL Pre-Election Assessment Mission Report: 2023 Cambodian General Election



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