Cambodia blocks 17 media websites before vote

Independent media sites taken offline for 48 hours as Cambodians prepare to vote on Sunday in a controversial election.


The Phnom Penh Post was among those taken offline for 48 hours by the government [Erin Handley/Al Jazeera]
The Phnom Penh Post was among those taken offline for 48 hours by the government [Erin Handley/Al Jazeera

Phnom Penh, Cambodia – The government blocked access to independent media websites just hours before polling in the country’s controversial national election begins.

Phos Sovann, director general of information and broadcasting at the Information Ministry, confirmed a total of 17 websites – including Voice of America, Radio Free Asia (RFA), Voice of Democracy, and the Phnom Penh Post – had been targeted.

“We requested to our committee members, along with the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Telecommunications, to close those websites down,” he said.

The National Election Committee requested political parties and media outlets to “remain silent” for a 24-hour period in advance of election day on Sunday.

The government edict comes a week after a sudden proliferation of WhatsApp groups, in which potentially hundreds of Cambodians found themselves added to chats through the Facebook-owned messenger service.


Five things to know about Cambodia’s general election

Sovann requested internet service providers to block the sites for 48 hours, while other news sites friendly to strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen‘s regime remained accessible online.

“We observed that the contents of those new media are provocative. Those contents are very political in their tendencies, and they are restricting to the election,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s unfair … It’s just for 48 hours before the election.”

Clamping down

The move comes during a political and media crackdown in Cambodia.

Opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested on questionable allegations of treason in September last year and his party was dissolved by the Supreme Court – led by a member of the ruling party – leaving some three million voters disenfranchised and the election without a viable opposition.
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Cambodia ‘shocked’ by ‘disrespectful’ U.S. aid cut, says democracy intact

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) – Cambodia said on Wednesday it was saddened and shocked by a “disrespectful” U.S. decision to rein back aid programmes because of perceived democratic setbacks and defended its record on democracy.

Cambodia’s national flags are seen as labourers work at a construction site in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

The White House said on Tuesday it was suspending or curtailing several Treasury, USAID and military assistance programmes that support Cambodia’s military, taxation department and local authorities – all of which, it said, shared blame for recent instability.

Tiếp tục đọc “Cambodia ‘shocked’ by ‘disrespectful’ U.S. aid cut, says democracy intact”

Kem Sokha detained during Cambodia police raid

Al Jazeera

Government cites ‘secret conspiracy’ for nighttime arrest of main opposition leader Kem Sokha.

Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Kem Sokha casts his vote during June elections [Samrang Pring/Reuters]

Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested in Phnom Penh early on Sunday and the government of veteran Prime Minister Hun Sen said he was accused of treason.

The government said in a statement it had a video clip and other evidence that pointed to “secret plans of conspiracy between Kem Sokha, others and foreigners to harm the Kingdom of Cambodia”. Tiếp tục đọc “Kem Sokha detained during Cambodia police raid”

Top Opposition Leader in Cambodia Resigns as Election Nears

Sam Rainsy, until Saturday the leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, arriving in Phnom Penh, the capital, in August 2015. He fled the country that November to avoid jail time. Credit Heng Sinith/Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — The embattled leader of Cambodia’s main opposition party abruptly quit on Saturday in the face of increasing government pressure, ceding a political stage he had occupied for more than two decades.

The resignation of the leader, Sam Rainsy, came after the government began a series of moves that would allow it to dissolve the Cambodia National Rescue Party he led, in advance of crucial local elections set for June. The opposition has also been hit with a barrage of lawsuits and leaked telephone conversations between leading figures and women purported to be their mistresses.

It was unclear whether Mr. Sam Rainsy, 67, was leaving politics for good or was planning to work quietly behind the scenes. Either way, his exit seemed to represent the end of an era.

As the head of three liberal-leaning political parties since 1995, he had been a thorn in the side of the country’s long-ruling prime minister, Hun Sen, for more than 20 years.

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