Hun Sen wins ‘sham’ election 

The Cambodian People’s Party has surprised no one by winning yesterday’s general election after the main opposition was banned.  

Prime Minister Hun Sen, 65, has ruled since 1985 and was due to secure “over 100 seats” in the 125-seat parliament with more than 80 per cent of the popular vote, according to his spokesman. 

Remarkably, the official results will not be announced until mid-August. 

The 19 small parties left to compete against the CPP were either considered to be completely unviable or puppets for Hun Sen.

“Compatriots have chosen the democratic path and used your rights,” Hun Sen posted on Facebook, apparently in reference to the former opposition, which called for a boycott.

Voter turnout was 82 per cent, according to the election committee, surpassing the 2013 figure of roughly 69 per cent when the opposition took part.

Pictures of spoiled ballots circulated on social media and observers reported seeing blank ballots set aside during vote counting.

Hun Sen, in his final pre-election speech on Friday, warned non-voters. “Those who do not go to vote, and who are incited by the national traitors, are the ones who destroy democracy,” he said. 

There were allegations of intimidation being used by the CPP, with factory staff threatened with losing their jobs and threats from the authorities to cut off residents’ water and electricity or face eviction if they failed to vote.

“I did not go to vote. I slept at home,” said Khem Chan Vannak, a former commune chief with the now-outlawed Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). 

“A lot of my friends did not go to vote.”

The dismantling of any appearance of democracy started with the imprisonment of Kem Sokha, the co-leader of the CNRP last October on charges of treason. Then the courts, which are controlled by the CPP, ordered the CNRP to be dissolved entirely, forcing hundreds of its members into exile.

The CNRP appealed for voters to boycott the polling booths in the “sham election that has no support and is not recognised by the international community”.

“What occurred on Sunday was a mockery of democracy, not a promotion of it,” said Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch’s Asia specialist. “PM Hun Sen and the ruling CPP are fooling themselves if they think this compromised election victory gets them out of woods with the international community. The government systematically mobilised their officials and cronies to intimidate voters across the country.

“The reality is the forced dissolution of the CNRP ensured that this election could never be genuine, nor free and fair.”


Cambodian’s queue to vote. Hun Sen’s victory is one of the least surprising election results. Picture credit: YouTube