Safeguarding peace: Cambodia's constitutional challenge
Publication date: 
1998
Accord issue: 
5

Yos Hut Khemacaro analyses the role of Khmer Buddhism, identifying it as the only institution that cuts across political divisions. Yet, he argues, while it enjoys widespread support and potential influence, it has not used its position to encourage greater democratic and constitutional governance. This is partly due to the prevalence of feudalistic tendencies in Cambodian society, and partly due to the insistence by those in power that religion and politics stand apart. Despite this, however, Cambodian monks do exercise real influence, and should do more to hold political leaders to account, even though recent attempts in 1998 led to violent crackdowns. Public demands for democracy, transparency and constitutional respect are needed to stop a slide back towards overt conflict, but it will be a long time before the citisenry are educated and empowered enough to mobilise in favour of these.