Sheila Copps caught up in disputed election crisis in Cambodia


TORONTO – A former Canadian cabinet minister has been caught up in the political crisis in Cambodia following that country’s hotly contested elections last month.

Former deputy minister Sheila Copps served as an election observer on behalf of an organization that lists among its leaders Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled the country for 28 years.

The group — called Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International (CAPDI) — released a statement saying the July 28 elections were “free, fair and transparent” and called on all political parties to respect the results.

Cambodia’s opposition disputed its narrow loss and called for an independent committee to probe allegations of widespread fraud by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

The opposition wrote to the Harper government Thursday asking it to clarify Canada’s position on the elections, saying the ruling party is exploiting Copps’s endorsement of the results for propaganda purposes.

A Foreign Affairs spokesman in Ottawa says Canada has been following recent events in Cambodia closely, but adds that the election observation team mentioned in the letter “was not sponsored by or affiliated with the government of Canada.”

Copps defended her decision to serve as an election observer, saying she is a member of CAPDI, which includes civil society members as well as current and former political leaders from more than 20 countries.

“Our invitation came from the Cambodian Election Committee and we were asked to observe election day practices,” she said in an email to The Canadian Press.

“It is standard practice in election monitoring to recruit people from other countries with election experience.”

As a private citizen Copps has the right to say whatever she wants to say, said Sorpong Peou, a political sciences professor at Ryerson University who has observed Cambodian politics for 20 years.

“Except that in reality the (CAPDI) statement is very political in my view, meaning it was used to justify the election results that are still in dispute,” he said.

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Sheila Copps caught up in disputed election crisis in Cambodia

  1. Hun Sen is very good at bribery to someone vanity or greed. I guess Ms Copps has fallen to one of them. Why this woman tainted her career and

    Canada good name with a Kleptocracy dictator. Doesn’t she know NEC that invited her is an instrument of a dictator propaganda institution. Now, she will have contempt from millions of Cambodians now for helping a dictator oppress freedom. Shame on Ms Sheila Copps for perverting the decency of elections monitor group.

    • You lost me at “Canada’s good name.” Been a solid three decades since we deserved one.

  2. maybe it wasnt even from her ,do you not think it is past hun sen to fake anything to get his grimy little hands on the prize and i dont think he will let go until someone puts him down .he is a despot war criminal former khmer rouge capable of anything really in the same image as zimbabwes mugabe as the country continues to slide as the money gets laundered and pilfered for the few black suits and their families ,as anyone knows and can see from whoever has lived or visited cambodia .it is such a shame for poor people who vastly live on one dollar a day or less to be treated so utterly bad