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Cambodia’s ruling party wins almost all seats in local council election

But an opposition party adviser said the election can’t be considered free or fair because of recent arrests.

By RFA Khmer

June 7, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party won the majority of the seats in the May 26 provincial, municipal and district council elections, according to the National Election Committee’s official count.

The unsurprising results from the May 26 election were announced Tuesday. They showed the CPP winning 504 of 559 provincial council seats, while the Khmer Will Party won 47 seats and the upstart National Power Party won eight seats.

The National Power Party was formed in 2023 by breakaway members of the Candlelight Party, which had been Cambodia’s main opposition party. The Khmer Will Party is also an opposition party that includes former Candlelight Party members.

The NEC ruled last May that the Candlelight Party couldn’t field any candidates for the National Assembly in the July election, citing inadequate paperwork. The party’s efforts to fix the issue in September were unsuccessful.

At the district level, the CPP won 3,257 out of 3,641 seats, while the Khmer Will Party won 312 seats, the National Power Party won 69 seats, FUNCINPEC won 2 seats and the Khmer National United Party won 1 seat. 

The nationwide vote followed February’s Senate election and last July’s national parliamentary elections.

Like those elections, the May 26 election also featured a crackdown on opposition activists in the months leading up to the vote, including the arrests of three opposition party members on May 9.

Recent arrests

Khmer Will Party Vice President Son Chhay told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday that the election would have been more fair if the Ministry of Interior had allowed his party to replace candidates who were accused of taking illegal payments.

“I want fair competition, even if this general election is not universal, and I hope that there will be no more obstacles for other parties to actively participate in voting in the future,” he said.

Rong Chhun, an adviser to the National Power Party, said the election can’t be considered free or fair because of the recent arrests of activists from his party.

The measures were taken to ensure stability for a smooth election process, CPP spokesman Sok Ey San said on Wednesday.

“Arrests of those who are violating the law are not suspended, even during the election campaign and election day,” he said. “We don’t suspend any laws or stop arrests during the elections.”

The CPP said in a statement on Tuesday that “the political environment was good both before, during and after the election.” 

Translated by Yun Samean. Edited by Matt Reed and Malcolm Foster.



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