Cambodia's election committee keeps opposition waiting

Cambodia's political parties have registered for a general election in July, but attention is focused on just how many will be in the running when voting begins.

The country's election committee says applications for nine parties still have not been approved. They include the largest opposition Candlelight Party, regarded as the only real challenger to the ruling Cambodian People's Party.

Committee officials told NHK they will evaluate all entries by May 15.

Cambodia holds general elections every five years. Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power for 38.

The last vote took place in 2018, when the ruling party claimed all 125 seats. The then largest opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party was disbanded just months beforehand, prompting fierce criticism in the West.

In March, authorities sentenced the party's former leader Kem Sokha to 27 years in prison on charges of conspiring with foreign powers. He denies any wrongdoing.

Global concerns about the health of democracy in Cambodia persist. The leader of the Candlelight Party, which succeeded the Cambodia National Rescue Party, insists all political forces must be treated fairly.