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Cambodia's flawed election will not remove pressure for change

Hun Sen must listen to his people and deliver reform

| Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos
An election official marks a voter's finger with ink at a polling station in Phnom Penh on July 29.   © Reuters

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was so worried about a possible defeat at the polls that he banned the largest opposition party and jailed or banished key leaders before staging the July 29 national election. Not surprisingly, with an array of mostly very minor or hastily created parties on the ballot, Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won hands down and claimed at least 100 seats in the 125-seat National Assembly.

In a throwback to rubber-stamp elections of a bygone authoritarian era, the state-funded National Election Committee declared voter turnout to have been more than 82 % of the country's 8.3 million registered voters. Many Cambodians interviewed by international media on the day either gave no comment or said they were too afraid to speak.

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