Ruling Party Claims Landslide in Cambodian Vote US Snubs

Human rights groups said election wasn't democratic
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 23, 2023 12:40 PM CDT
Ruling Party Claims Landslide in Cambodian Vote US Snubs
Cambodian voters line up at a polling station at Krang Thnung village, outside Phnom Penh, on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

The ruling party of longtime Prime Minister Hun Sen claimed a landslide victory in Cambodia's general election on Sunday, an outcome that was virtually assured thanks to the suppression and intimidation of the opposition in a vote opponents said made a farce of democracy. Six hours after polls closed, the National Election Committee said 84.6% of eligible voters had cast ballots. Sok Eysan, spokesperson for Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party, said he believed it captured 78& to 80% of the total turnout. "I have no results about the allocation of seats, but as of now but I can say that the ruling Cambodian People's Party has won a landslide victory," he told the AP, though no official vote count had been issued.

The US and other Western countries, as well as the European Union, had refused to send observers, saying the election lacked the conditions to be considered free and fair. That left international officials from Russia, China, and Guinea-Bissau to watch as Hun Sun voted shortly after the polls opened in his home district outside of the capital, Phnom Penh. The longest-serving leader in Asia, Hun Sen has steadily consolidated power with strong-arm tactics over the past 38 years. But, at age 70, he has suggested he will hand off the premiership during the upcoming five-year term to his eldest son, Hun Manet, perhaps as early as the first month after the elections.

Ahead of Sunday's election, the Candlelight Party, the unofficial successor to the CNRP and only other contender capable of mounting a challenge, was barred on a technicality from contesting the polls by the National Election Committee. While virtually assuring another landslide victory for Hun Sen and his party, the methods have prompted widespread criticism from rights groups. Human Rights Watch said the "election bears little resemblance to an actual democratic process," while the Asian Network for Free Elections, an umbrella organization of almost 20 regional NGOs, said the National Election Committee had showed a "clear bias" toward the CPP in barring the Candlelight Party.

(More Cambodia stories.)

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