Cambodia Set to Become One Party State

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'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 said.

A statement released by the CPP's central committee on Sunday night said the preliminary 82.17% voter turnout figure "clearly illustrates the enthusiasm and political rights of the Cambodian people in strengthening a multi-party democracy".

Dissatisfaction with corruption and a growing youth population with no memory of the Khmer Rouge helped the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) win more than 44 percent of the 2013 vote and carve out a similar share in local elections past year.

Hun Sen was given a scare in the 2013 election when the CNRP did well enough to credibly claim it would have won had the government not manipulated the voter registration process. "You're talking about an election without an opposition", said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division.

Critics say the election was a backward step for democracy in Cambodia following the dissolution last year of the main opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) and the jailing of its leader, Kem Sokha, on treason charges.Former CNRP President Sam Rainsy, who lives in exile, said the election was a "hollow" victory for Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander who has ruled Cambodia for almost 33 years. Nineteen minor parties took part in the election, winning a small fraction of the vote among them.

A Cambodian woman casts her vote during the general elections at a polling station in Phnom Penh on July 29, 2018.

A National Election Commission spokesperson said two hours before polls closed that turnout was more than 70 percent, just surpassing the final figure in 2013 of roughly 69 percent.

Officials say they don't expect any violence on election day, but last week authorities put on a show of power, with police displaying anti-riot gear and assault rifles in the capital in a move meant to discourage any street protests.

Critics say the election was a backward step for democracy in Cambodia following the dissolution a year ago of the main opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) and the jailing of its leader, Kem Sokha, on treason charges.

The demonstrations marked the last push by the opposition to lobby for a boycott of the vote following the party's dissolution by the Cambodian People's Party-controlled Supreme Court in November.

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"We are profoundly disappointed in the government's choice to disenfranchise millions of voters, who are rightly proud of their country's development over the past 25 years", the White House office of the Press Secretary said in a statement. There were also multiple reports of tactics of intimidation being used by the CPP, with people in factories threatened with losing their jobs and threats that people would have water and electricity cut off, or even be evicted from their homes by local authorities, if they did not vote. "They can not boycott, because they are afraid it will affect their business or affect their earnings". The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would impose sanctions on members of Hun Sen's inner circle and others responsible for human rights abuses.

Both the United States and European Union have declared that the election did not represent the will of the people.

It was a preordained result, which surprised nobody and firmly established Cambodia as a de facto one-party state.

Of these 539 observers, those who addressed the media after the close of polls yesterday nearly all gave the ballot a resounding tick of approval.

"We believe the number of spoiled ballots is significant, but we have been unable to verify it or fact-check because the NEC lacks an independent mechanism to do so", he said. "These days, no one completely trusts what the NEC says".

Cambodia, following decades of war and conflict, has been a nominal democracy since 1993, with rampant attacks on political opposition and press freedom.

The second most popular option for voters was to invalidate their vote.

Chhay Eang urged Cambodians not to lend legitimacy to the election, which he said was taking place without a viable opposition party.

But CNRP vice-president Mu Sochua also said it was not asking supporters to take to the streets. The blocked websites included those of the USA government-funded Voice of America as well as local media.