Asia

Cambodia election: Hun Sen's ruling party claims victory

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Media captionThe BBC's Karishma Vaswani: "The outcome of this election is pretty much known"

Cambodia's ruling party has claimed victory in Sunday's elections, but is likely to have a much reduced majority.

The Cambodian People's Party (CPP) led by Prime Minister Hun Sen said it had won at least 68 seats, compared with 55 seats for the main opposition.

Official results have not yet been released, but if these numbers are confirmed it would be the CPP's worst performance in 15 years.

Hun Sen has been in power in Cambodia for nearly three decades.

His main challenge in the elections is from the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), led by Sam Rainsy, who recently came back to the country from self-imposed exile.

More than nine million people were eligible to vote, and results are expected later on Sunday.

Unfair polls?

The CPP had been widely expected to win the election.

The party enjoys considerable support in the countryside - in part due to the economic growth achieved there after the devastation caused by the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, which was responsible for one of the worst mass killings of the 20th Century.

Younger voters were thought more likely to look for a change and back Sam Rainsy and the opposition.

In 2010 Mr Rainsy was sentenced in absentia to 11 years in prison, on a series of charges he says were politically motivated.

Image caption The party of Sam Rainsy, left, is Hun Sen's main challenge at the polls

But analysts say his return to the country early in July seems to have helped his party's cause.

Mr Rainsy's party has complained that the polls were fraudulent, with some voters unable to find their names on electoral lists.

Hun Sen, 60, was among the early voters on Sunday, casting his ballot shortly after polls opened near his home in Takmau, south of the capital Phnom Penh.

Sam Rainsy, 64, visited a polling station near his party's office in Phnom Penh where supporters greeted him enthusiastically.

"I am happy to see people flocking to vote," he said.

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