Cambodia is on its way to becoming a a one-party state after the country’s flawed elections resulted in handing the ruling party’s Hun Sen all 125 parliamentary seats.
The July 29 election result has prolonged Hun Sen’s 33-year rule. According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), however, observers say questions of legitimacy may haunt the wily political survivor as frustration sets in over lack of change.
The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) “will take all seats across the country,” spokesman Sok Eysan told AFP at party headquarters, hailing “a landslide victory”.
In response the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the country’s only real opposition who were disbanded before the poll, issued a statement lamenting “the death of democracy” and a “new, dark day” in Cambodian history.
This was Cambodia’s sixth general election since United Nations-sponsored polls were held in 1993 after decades of conflict. Some 8.3 million people registered to cast their ballots last week.
Final figures are due August 15.
According to AFP, the elections lacked any serious challengers after Hun Sen cracked down on the opposition last year, leading to the arrest one of its leaders and then the dissolution of the party by the Supreme Court.
From Brussels, the European Union expects the Cambodian authorities to restore democracy, to engage in dialogue with the opposition, and to create conditions conducive to free political debate and competition, in which the media and civil society, including human rights and labour rights defenders, can freely exercise their rights without undue restrictions.
But Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division at Human Rights Watch, predicted simmering discontent.
“I think what we will see here in Cambodia is continued passive resistance and anger by the Cambodian people, they weren’t given the opportunity to vote for the people they wanted,” he was quoted as saying by AFP.