Cambodia’s ruling and opposition parties both claimed victory on Monday in commune elections held over the weekend, with at least 20 days to go before an expected official count is tallied by the country’s top electoral body.
Slightly more than 7 million Cambodians, or 89.52 percent of registered voters, turned out for commune council polls on Sunday, a record turnout in a test of public opinion ahead of 2018 general elections.
Preliminary results released by political parties showed slightly more than 51 percent of the popular vote going to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and around 46 percent going to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), under Kem Sokha.
The CPP won 1163 of 1,646 commune chief posts up for grabs in the ballot, while the CNRP won 482, results showed. One post went to the Khmer National United Party—one of 10 other smaller parties that had competed in Sunday’s vote.
On Monday, Hun Sen, who has ruled the country for 32 years, took to his Facebook page to rebuff claims that the CPP had “lost” the election, saying “these people cannot see the forest through the trees.”
“The [opposition] plan to control the majority of the commune councilors, who are electors of the Senate, in order to take over the Senate and the position of Head of State in the absence of the King, has already failed,” he wrote.
“They campaigned that in 2017, they would take over the communes and the Senate, and in 2018, the National Assembly [parliament]. In the future, the CPP remains in control of the majority of the Senate.”
Hun Sen also noted that, based on unofficial results, the CPP received more votes in the election than any other party and 300,000 more votes than it had in Cambodia’s 2013 general election, suggesting “support for the party continues to increase.”
“I hope other parties know how to calculate their own number of votes by comparing it to the number of seats at the National Assembly,” he said.
“This clearly confirms that the CPP will remain the majority party in the National Assembly and further lead the Royal Government. The election in 2018 will not differ from this election … I would like to thank all leaders and members of the CPP at all levels for helping bring about this new victory.”
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Reported by Nareth Muong, Sothearin Yeang, Sel San, Vuthy Tha, Sokunthea Hong, Hour Hum, Chanthy Men and Vanndeth Van for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Sovannarith Keo. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.
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