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EU says Cambodia election ‘lacks credibility, genuine competition’

Muslim Times(Web Desk) -The European Union says the general elections in Cambodia that handed the country’s strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen full control of parliament lacked credibility, as it failed to reflect the will of people in the Southeast Asian country.

“The lack of genuine electoral competition and the absence of an inclusive political process mean that the July 29 election is not representative of the democratic will of the Cambodian electorate,” a statement from the EU’s foreign affairs office said on Monday.

“Therefore its outcome lacks credibility,” it added.

Preliminary results of the Sunday election released by the National Election Committee showed Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had won an outright majority of the votes, securing all 125 parliamentary seats up for grabs in the elections.

The commission said 6.8 million people cast their ballots — down from about 7.1 million in last July’s local elections — or 82% of registered voters.

The Sunday vote lacked any serious contenders as Hun Sen had backed a crackdown on the main opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) after finding it guilty of trying to overthrow the government, charges it denies.

Given the circumstances, Brussels had declined to act as an observer in the Sunday elections and suspended its financial assistance to the Cambodian election authorities.

The EU deplored the “highly restrictive political climate,” and implored Cambodian authorities “to restore democracy, to engage in dialogue with the opposition, and to create conditions conducive to free political debate.”

Critics say the election was a backward step for democracy in Cambodia following the last year dissolution of the CNRP and the jailing of its leader, Kem Sokha, on treason charges.

“The result announced by the CPP and the National Election Committee must be fully rejected by the international community,” Mu Sochua, vice president of the CNRP, told a news conference in Jakarta. She added that July 29, 2018 “marked the death of democracy in Cambodia, a dark new day in recent history.”

Former CNRP president Sam Rainsy, who lives in exile, also said the election was a “hollow” victory for Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander who has ruled Cambodia for nearly 33 years.

The Southeast Asian country has held general elections once every five years since 1993, when it emerged from decades of war marked by death and destruction at the hands of a dictatorial regime.

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