07/31/2018, 10.40
CAMBODIA
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Phnom Penh, undisputed victory for Hun Sen

Reconfirmed for the sixth time at the helm of Cambodia. The Cambodian People's Party won 114 out of 125 seats. The turnout was 82%. Last year the main opposition party was outlawed.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Hun Sen won the elections in Cambodia and was reconfirmed as prime minister. His Popular Party won 114 out of 125 seats. Two other parties, the Funcinpec and the League of Democracy Party, received five and six seats respectively.

On his Facebook page Hun Sen comments the result: "Compatriots have chosen the democratic path and have used their rights". According to the national electoral commission, 82% of those entitled to vote went to the polls.

The Cambodian People's Party of Hun Sen has won all the elections since 1998, thus the Cambodian prime minister has retained power for the sixth consecutive time.

A climate of fear has discouraged criticism from the opposition. Political observers say that Cambodia has taken a step backwards with this election. Last year, in fact, the government dissolved the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), and arrested its leader Kem Sokha on treason charges.

The members of the CNRP are in prison, other illegal immigrants or in exile. They urged the population not to vote, the only sure form of protest.

Former CNR President Sam Rainsy says the election was an "empty victory" for Hun Sen. The Cambodian prime minister has retained power through the years thanks to political and family alliances in the police, the army and the media . He also placed his children in strategic positions in these areas.

The election of Hun Sen has been criticized in the West. The European Union has threatened Cambodia with economic sanctions. Together with the United States, the EU has withdrawn the funds allocated for the elections. However, China has provided support to the allied country with around 20 million dollars to buy equipment, polling stations and computers. In addition, during the electoral campaign, Chinese diplomats supported Hun Sen. The Chinese ambassador also criticized the European Union's decision to apply new sanctions to Cambodia.

The country's economy - also thanks to the stability guaranteed by Hun Sen - has recorded an average growth of 7% in recent years, one of the highest rates in Southeast Asia. Its economy is based on exports and depends on the United States and Europe, major buyers of Cambodian goods. The country's textile industry, which employs millions of people, currently exports almost 70% of the clothes and shoes produced to the two markets.

If the EU decides to enforce the hard-line with Hun Sen's government and withdraw its preferential trade agreements with Cambodia, the textile industry will suffer, as well as the export of rice and other products that are exempt from the taxes of western markets.

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