Cambodian opposition leader barred from election

The Cambodia's Constitutional Council has upheld a decision by the National Election Committee (NEC) to bar Sam Rainsy, the opposition leader, from running in the general election due next year.

Rainsy's hope of playing a major role in Cambodian politics any time soon was dashed by the ruling. This also means that the main opposition party leader will not be able to vote next year and more importantly, cannot file his candidacy for the poll.

On Nov 5, the NEC removed Rainsy's name from the voter rolls. This prompted his party to appeal to the Constitutional Council.

The opposition alliance of Rainsy's party and the Human Rights Party may have to compete in next year's elections without its leader.

"I am so frustrated about the decision, it's unreasonable," Rainsy's lawyer, Chung Chugy, told the Phnom Penh Post .

Rainsy has been living in a self-imposed exile ever since he was charged for removing posts on the Cambodian-Vietnamese border.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann slammed the decision, believing that it is just another case where the ruling Cambodian People's Party oppressing its political rivals. 

"It isn't free and fair elections if the Cambodian People's Party continues [this way]." Sovann added.

Earlier this year, his supporters tried to lobby for his return but rejected even when Rainsy requested to pay his final respect to the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk.

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