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In Cambodia, everything is different but nothing has changed

Sam Rainsy leads a CNRP campaign rally in Prey Veng in July 25 2013 in the run-up to Cambodia's last national election. (Photo by Sebastian Strangio)

As is usual at this point in the electoral cycle, the Cambodian government is clamping down hard on its opponents -- even as the country marked the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking Paris Peace Accords signed by 19 countries and groups on Oct. 23 1991. The agreements between warring factions and also Vietnam, which occupied the country in the 1980s, settled the conflict and officially ended the Cambodia-Vietnam war, paving the way for the United Nations peacekeeping mission and eventually, an uneasy peace.

Since mid-2015, events in Cambodia have unfolded according to a familiar script: Flimsy legal charges against government critics, threats and bluster from Prime Minister Hun Sen, and bland statements of "concern" by the U.N. and foreign governments, unwilling or unable to back their words with concrete sanction.

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