Cambodia ruling party claims landslide election win after opposition banned in 'sham'...

Cambodia ruling party claims landslide election win after opposition banned in 'sham' vote

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Cambodia's ruling party said it had won a landslide in Sunday's one-horse election, an expected outcome after the main opposition was banned paving the way for leader Hun Sen to prolong his 33 years in power. Hun Sen, who came to power in 1985 in a country still plagued by civil war, has cracked down on dissent in the run-up to this year's poll, pressuring civil society, independent media and political opponents. That left him with little competition and no serious challengers. Cambodian People's Party (CPP) spokesman Sok Eysan told AFP late Sunday they expected to win "over 100 seats" in the 125-seat parliament, citing preliminary figures from the National Election Committee. "The CPP will get more than 80 percent of the popular vote," he said. "This is a huge victory for us." Hun Sen, 65, a one-time defector from the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, has pointed to stability and growth as the fruits of his rule – a message that resonates with his base. Freedom index rank: Cambodia "Compatriots have chosen the democratic path and used your rights," he said on his Facebook page after polls closed in an apparent swipe at the opposition, which called for a boycott. Voter turnout was 82 percent, according to the election committee, surpassing the final figure in 2013 of roughly 69 percent when the opposition took part. Pictures of spoiled ballots circulated on social media, though they could not be independently verified. AFP correspondents saw dozens of blank ballots set aside during counting. "I did not go to vote. I slept at home," said Khem Chan Vannak, a former commune chief elected with the now-banned opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). "A lot of my friends did not go to vote." The CNRP appealed to Cambodians not to vote in the "sham election that has no support and is not recognised by the international community".