Cambodia’s incumbent prime minister has claimed victory in the country’s general elections, continuing his decades-long rule according to a government spokesman.
Opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, did not go quietly in the elections on Sunday, claiming 55 seats to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s 68.
“We can say we’ve won this election,” Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman Khieu Kanharith told AFP.
The CPP had 90 seats in the previous parliament, so if confirmed the result would mark the loss of more than 20 seats to the opposition.
The general election was Cambodia’s fifth since 1993, when the United Nations helped stage the country’s first free polls since the 1975-79 genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge and a subsequent period of civil war and one-party rule.
Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, reporting from Phnom Penh, said the opposition would use its 26-seat gain to address a wealth gap that had been created in the country.
“Many people came out to vote and voted very enthusiastically, which is something people said they hadn’t seen before,” our correspondent said.
“Now the opposition can at least try to change some policies.”
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy had returned to the country just a few days earlier, after receiving a royal pardon for charges of racial incitement and destruction of property.
The National Election Committee has not yet published figures.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), said earlier it had won the election but later withdrew the statement.