Cambodia's top opposition party loses appeal of election disqualification

Cambodia's Constitutional Council has officially barred a major opposition party from taking part in the country's upcoming general election. Some Western nations have voiced concerns about the fairness of the vote.

The tribunal on Thursday rejected a request by the Candlelight Party to accept its registration for July's election. The party had appealed a decision by the election committee to disqualify it over allegedly incomplete paperwork.

Candlelight is the latest incarnation of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, which was the largest opposition party before it was forced to disband ahead of the previous election in 2018. Candlelight has been gaining popularity, and placed second in last year's local races.

Thursday's decision could pave the way for a landslide victory by Prime Minister Hun Sen's party. He has been in power for nearly four decades.

Some Western countries criticized Candlelight's disqualification. Hun Sen called such statements interference in Cambodia's internal affairs.