Hun Sen’s ruling party declares ‘landslide’ win in Cambodia election

(Update: recasts with declaration of victory by CPP)

Bangkok, Jul 23 (EFE).- Cambodia’s ruling party declared a landslide victory in Sunday’s general election, in which strongman Hun Sen ran virtually unopposed.

The win for the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) paves the way for Hun Sen, who has ruled the Southeast Asian nation with an iron fist since 1985, to hand over power to his eldest son, army commander Hun Manet.

“It is clear that the CPP is leading (the vote count) and will win 100% for sure. We can not yet announce a number (of seats won), but it is clear that the CPP won by landslide,” said the party spokesman, Sok Eysan, to CamboJA News.

Sunday’s election saw a high turnout of 84%.

During a press conference after polling centers closed, the country’s Electoral Committee admitted that the CPP was “leading” the count. Preliminary results were expected later on Sunday night.

In the lead-up to the vote, the 70-year-old prime minister and his government had eliminated all credible opposition, changed electoral laws, limited public access to independent information and silenced dissent, ensuring what was expected to be yet another victory for the leader – this time with succession on the horizon.

Hun Sen on Friday revealed that his 45-year-old son Hun Manet could take over his leadership in a matter of weeks following Sunday’s poll, in which around 9.7 million eligible voters were called to submit their ballots.

Hun Sen cast his vote early in his southeastern home province of Kandal at about 7.15 am, while at 8 am Hun Manet voted at a school in capital Phnom Penh.

A number of ballots could be declared invalid after photos were posted to social media sites showing crossed-out voting papers, although these could not be independently verified.


Before it had even started, Sunday’s vote had been expected to further entrench Hun Sen’s rule, with the main opposition party barred from running due to an administrative technicality, and with 17 other parties lacking the size and structure to pose a threat.

It was reminiscent of the last general election in 2018, when the CPP swept all 125 seats in parliament after critical media outlets were shut down and the popular main opposition party was dissolved by politically-controlled courts.

In addition, a recent change to an electoral law barring those who did not vote from running as a candidate in future elections affected any opponents who had been considering an election boycott, and opposition politicians in exile.

Access to information was also further impeded. In February, authorities shut down independent news outlet Voice of Democracy, and earlier this month, the government issued a letter to ISP providers to block the domains of Komnotra, a public database run by the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, and news outlets Cambodia Daily Khmer and Radio Free Asia, both headquartered overseas.

“Having almost completely eliminated the free press inside Cambodia, Hun Sen’s government is now targeting media operating from abroad in order to perfect its information lockdown,” said Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific Bureau Director Cédric Alviani in a statement on Friday.

Other organizations also denounced the Cambodian government’s harassment and jailing of activists and dissidents.

All moves looked to be aimed at clearing the path for an uncontested victory that in turn would pave the way for a power transition.


This year, former Khmer Rouge cadre Hun Sen has openly threatened opposition members and supporters with violence, while projecting himself as the gatekeeper of stability and peace, warning citizens that the country could descend into civil war if the status quo is not maintained.

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