Sham election cements one-party rule

Press release
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(Paris) The upcoming polls fail to meet international standards for democratic elections and cement one-party rule in Laos, FIDH and its member organization Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR) said in a new briefing paper released today.

“The international community must tell the Lao government, loud and clear, that it will not accept another sham election that prevents its people to freely choose their representatives.”

Karim Lahidji, FIDH President

On 20 March 2016, Laos will hold its sixth legislative election since the establishment of the National Assembly in 1991. The polls will elect 149 members to the National Assembly for a five-year term. For the first time, polls will be also held at the provincial level, with 360 representatives to be elected in all 18 provinces.

Like the past legislative elections, the upcoming polls fail to meet most of the benchmarks that define a competitive, free, fair, inclusive, and participatory electoral process. The conditions under which the polls take place are clearly inconsistent with the country’s obligation under Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to hold genuine elections that guarantee the “free expression of the will of the electors.”

The oppressive legal framework that allows only one party to legally exist prevents the development of a multi-party political system. All candidates must be approved by the ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP). The LPRP tightly controls every aspect of the electoral process through the National Election Committee, including a dull, carefully orchestrated campaign period.

The election takes place amid the government’s protracted failure to carry out institutional and political reforms and to address serious and systematic human rights violations.

“Foreign government and international donors must immediately suspend any assistance to the National Assembly and other undemocratic bodies and make any future provision of financial and technical assistance contingent on genuine reform of the political system.”

Vanida Thephsouvanh, LMHR President
Press contacts
FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66 88 611 7722 (Bangkok)
FIDH: Mr. Arthur Manet (French, English, Spanish) - Tel: +33 6 72 28 42 94 (Paris)
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