Inside Story

What’s behind Cambodia’s crackdown on the opposition?

Cambodia’s supreme court disbanded the country’s main opposition party on Thursday.

Hun Sen, 65, is one of the world’s longest-serving leaders, first taking office as prime minister of Cambodia in 1985. Rights groups say hundreds of opposition figures, journalists, trade union leaders and others have been killed in politically motivated attacks during his time in power.

Hun Sen’s dominance was challenged in parliamentary elections in 2013, when the newly formed Cambodia National Rescue Party nearly pulled off an upset. Since then, its leaders have either been jailed or pushed into exile.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court dissolved the party, accepting the government’s claim that it conspired with foreigners to stage a revolution.

This effectively allows the ruling party to run uncontested in next year’s polls.

So, will the court’s ruling help consolidate Hun Sen’s three-decade-long grip on power?

Presenter: Adrian Finighan


Mu Sochua Vice President, opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party

Victor Gao Director, China National Association of International Studies

Hosuk Lee Makiyama Director, European Centre for International Political Economy