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Leadership reshuffle emboldens Cambodia's political opposition

New opposition leaders augur bold but 'quixotic' challenge to Hun Sen

Mu Sochua, a lawmaker of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, makes a speech during a ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of the Paris Peace Agreements in front of the CNRP headquarters in October, 2016.   © Getty Images

PHNOM PENH -- Whatever veneer of democracy Cambodia once had is fading quickly, warn regional critics. In recent weeks, the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has imprisoned land-rights activists, sued a political commentator for defamation and made a concerted effort to fracture the country's main political opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), ahead of two pivotal votes: a commune -- or municipal -- election in June and a general election next year.

In February, the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, approved amendments to the country's Law on Political Parties that will allow the government to dissolve political parties for arbitrary and vaguely worded reasons.

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