The ruling Cambodian People’s Party claimed victory in a general election Sunday, capturing nearly all 125 seats in a one-sided contest as voters, many under threat of losing government services, ratified an outcome decided in November when Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government dissolved the main opposition party.
Unconfirmed preliminary results indicated that the ruling CPP secured 123 out of 125 parliamentary seats, ensuring long-ruling strongman Hun Sen will add another five-year term to his 33 years in office. Two small parties gained one seat each in parliament.
The National Election Committee (NEC) said the turnout rate was 6.8 million registered voters, or 82.2 percent – suggesting that a boycott called for by the Cambodian National Rescue Party failed in the face of threats from authorities to withhold licenses, land registration and other government services from voters who did not turn out.
National Police chief General Neth Savoeun said all polling stations across the country closed without violence, threat or any incidents.
The Supreme Court’s dissolution of the CNRP in November and the arrest of its president, Kem Sokha in September – on spurious insurrection charges — as well as a months-long crackdown on NGOs and the independent media, were widely seen as Hun Sen’s way of ensuring he stays in power.
The Associated Press quoted exiled former CNRP leaser Sam Rainsy as saying from Paris that “it is a meaningless victory because (Hun Sen) won without any real challenger … prior to the election he dissolved the only credible opposition party.”
The White House expressed regret that the Sunday’s polls “were neither free nor fair and failed to represent the will of the Cambodian people.”
Full story: rfa.org
Reported and translated by RFA’s Khmer Service. Written in English by Paul Eckert.
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