>Cambodian parties anticipate polling day of general election

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The Cambodian People’s Party headquarters in Phnom Penh. As leaders of Cambodia’s genocidal Khmer Rouge near trial at a UN-backed court, Prime Minister Hun Sen has claimed much of the credit in voters’ eyes ahead of elections Sunday, experts say

(AFP/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

By Xia Lin

PHNOM PENH, July 25 (Xinhua) — All 11 participating political parties Friday ended their month-long campaigning according to the rules set by the National Election Committee (NEC), and sat down to expect rich outcome during the upcoming polling day of the fourth general election.

On Sunday some 8.1 million eligible voters should cast their ballots at 15,255 polling stations nationwide, while nearly 90,000 observers and political party agents will be present to supervise the process, said the NEC.

The current ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will turn out to be the absolute winner and its premier candidate Hun Sen will surely secure another five-year term upon his 23-year career as government leader of the kingdom, said Suy Sok Khun, senior CPP member and veteran reporter at Chinese-language newspaper the Commercial News.

Out of the 123 seats at the Cambodian National Assembly, the CPP can harvest over two thirds, the major opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) around one fourth, while each of the other minor parties, including the current co-ruling Funcinpec Party and the eponymous party led by Cambodian Prince Norodom Ranariddh, can share none to five seats only, he predicted.

During the last three general elections respectively held in 1993, 1998 and 2003, the CPP had 51, 64 and 73 seats; SRP 0, 15 and 24 seats; and Funcinpec 58, 43, 26 seats, according to NEC files.

The figures showed that in the past 15 years of political confrontation and showdown, the CPP enjoyed strong pickup, SRP mild uptrend, but Funcinpec had a slide.

The CPP itself also manifested strong confidence for the forthcoming polling, citing positive economic figures and development of infrastructure as the major achievements of its government to boost electoral results.

Official records showed that Cambodia had 11 percent of economic growth on average in the past three years, the highest among Southeast Asian countries; the per capita GDP rose from 448 U.S. dollars in 2005 to 594 U.S. dollars in 2007; and the foreign reserves from 890 million U.S. dollars in 2005 to 1.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2007.

Meanwhile, major national roads, bridges and power projects have also been constructed countrywide, which improved the kingdom’s traffic and power network to an unprecedented level.

However, corruption allegations and land grabbing have haunted the CPP government and officials for a long time, thus draining the voters’ confidence and ballots to the SRP, which surpassed Funcinpec during the Commune Councils Election in April 2007 to become the second largest party of the country, firmly trailing the CPP, said a source close to the Council of Ministers on condition of anonymity.

As to Funcinpec, it suffered from a breakup in 2006, after Ranariddh was sacked as president. Traditional popularity was lost soon due to its internal dispute.

Other parties in the election are either limited in scale or too young to win wide support, thus constituting no menace to the big ones, the source told Xinhua.

“The game seems having no surprise,” the source added.

According to the Constitution, the party winning majority of the seats at the National Assembly will establish the government. There were 122 seats at the assembly before, and the number increased to 123 after the third general election. Law can be passed with support from 50 percent plus one seats at this top legislative body of Cambodia.

The first, second and third general elections separatively had 20, 39 and 23 political parties contending for the seats, and their balloting rates stood at 89.56 percent, 93.74 percent and 83.22 percent, said NEC statistics.

Editor: Bi Mingxin
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