PHNOM PENH – Cambodia’s election committee Sunday handed victory in hotly disputed polls to the ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen, prompting the opposition to say it will boycott parliament and stage further protests over allegations of widespread fraud.
The kingdom has been stuck in a political impasse since the July election, with Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) insisting it secured a legitimate victory despite vociferous calls from CNRP leader Sam Rainsy for a probe into alleged vote rigging.
The CPP took 68 seats to 55 for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), according to the country’s National Election Committee. The election authority said the CPP won 3.2 million votes to the CNRP’s 2.9 million.
It is the ruling party’s worst election result since 1998, losing 22 seats since the last polls five years ago.
Analysts say it delivers a significant blow to the CPP and Hun Sen, who has led the country for nearly three decades.
A rare mass rally in the capital Saturday called for an independent probe into results but the NEC’s announcement ends the legal avenues open to the opposition to contest the poll.
Rainsy on Sunday moved quickly to reject the NEC’s tally, insisting the loss will not blunt his party’s efforts to overturn the poll.