PHNOM PENN/BATTAMBANG, KOMPAS.com — Early projections show the ruling Cambodian People’s Party is headed for a landslide victory in the local elections held Sunday, according to early results broadcast by pro-government officials and the nation’s election body.
According to the National Election Committee, voter turnout stood at 80.19 percent by 11 a.m. local time and at 77.91 percent when the polls closed at 3 p.m. Some 9.2 million Cambodians are registered and eligible to vote. An official tally is expected to be released June 26.
Led by longtime autocrat Prime Minister Hun Sen, the CPP won more than 9,000 of the 11,622 council seats being contested in 1,652 commune offices nationwide, preliminary results broadcast Monday by state media showed. Of the 1,652 commune chief positions, CPP won 1,648.
The opposition Candlelight Party is projected to win at least four commune chief positions, collecting some 2,176 commune council seats nationwide, according to the party’s officials Monday.
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In each Cambodian commune – administrative territory equivalent to a sub-district or a sub-county – a commune council is formed to govern by the proportionate party-list elections. A councilor from the majority party will lead the council as commune chief.
On Sunday, the opposition and the local rights group LICADHO reported irregularities with the ballot-counting process when the polls closed at 3 p.m. local time. It alleged a number of polling stations restricted access to onlookers, closing the doors and windows of stations from scrutiny. It also alleged intimidation tactics against opposition party representatives.
The Candlelight Party (CLP) decried the electoral process as “rigged” and the “worst in history,” citing systematic “bias” to the ruling party by the “weak” electoral authorities. On Monday, the party’s leadership held a news conference to condemn the conduct but added that it would accept the seats won with dissatisfaction.
“These elections are worse than the previous ones in terms of transparency and honesty. The public is not being allowed to witness the vote counting, as required by the National Election Committee (NEC),” CLP founder and ex-leader Sam Rainsy tweeted late Sunday. “Today, thanks to the courage and intelligence of Cambodian democrats who refuse to give up their struggle, the monopoly of power exercised by Hun Sen has been broken at the local level, despite the manipulated and unjust character of these communal elections.”