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Cambodia PM Hun Sen's party claims victory in elections

Phnom Penh [Cambodia], July 23 (ANI): Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) has claimed a "landslide" victory in national elections, Al Jazeera reported.

Critics have described Cambodia's elections as the least free and fair vote in decades, the report added.

Just hours after elections closed on Sunday, CPP spokesperson Sok Eysan said, "We've won a landslide victory but so far there is no clear figures yet [on seats won]."Earlier, Hun Sen said voter turnout reached 84 per cent on Sunday.

Opponents and human rights groups have criticised the polls due to the lack of credible competition and Hun Sen's strongman tactics that have now silenced all opposition to his rule in Cambodia, according to Al Jazeera report. Earlier in the day, the National Election Committee (NEC) reported that two people were arrested under laws recently passed to stop people from protesting against the one-sided election by spoiling their votes.

National Election Committee (NEC) spokesperson Som Morida said one of those arrested had drawn an "X" over their ballot paper and shared a picture on social media, according to Al Jazeera report. Morida further said the second person had stuffed the ballot in the pocket to remove it from the polling station and discard it.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mu Sochua, an Opposition leader living in exile, said images of spoiled ballot papers were being posted on Telegram and Facebook. She said, "I totally respect their courage. It's an expression of anger, resentment, real defiance."Mu Sochua also termed the election in Cambodia as "theatre" and urged international community to announce sanctions against Hun Sen and other members of the CPP. 18 parties, including Hun Sen's CPP, participated in the election.

Although none of the 17 smaller parties had the popular support to present a serious challenge to Hun Sen. The only credible opposition challenger- the Candlelight Party - was disqualified from participating in the elections due to a registration technicality in May, Al Jazeera reported. Opposition supporters were arrested in the run-up to Sunday's vote for allegedly encouraging people to spoil the ballot papers in protest of the one-sided election race. Internet service providers were also directed to block access to the websites of several independent news and information outlets.

Before the voting started, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said a"predictable outcome" from "an illegitimate process" could be expected from the polls, the report said. It further said that the vote was set to mirror Cambodia's 218 election when the then-popular Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was banned from political life, which enabled Hun Sen towin all seats in parliament.

Hun Sen, who has consolidated power in Cambodia over the past 38 years, is the longest-serving elected leader in Asia, Al Jazeera reported. With this election win, he is expected to hand over power to Hun Manet, the commander of the Cambodian army. (ANI)