Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won an overwhelming victory, taking up 90 out of 123 seats after the parliamentary elections on 27 July 2008. Prime Minister who has been in power for 23 years gets a new term in office (5 years) and this victory gives him a free and strong hand in parliament. Previously, he held 73 seats.
The casualty in this election, the formerly powerful Royalist party, Funcinpec, has declined in power considerably and some people may worry irreversibly. Many of its cadre members have defected to CPP. This election is seen as legitimate by some quarters because it was put together by the United Nations (UN). Independent monitors (except the EU monitors) have also endorsed the elections. Human rights groups though contest this claim.
Hun Sen is riding on the popularity arising from his perceived ability to deliver economic rewards to the people. Given his newfound confidence, Hun Sen did not object to King Norodom Sihamoni’s pardon of Prince Norodom Ranariddh for his fraud conviction and allowed his former rival to return to Cambodia.
Ranariddh had been living in self-imposed exile in Malaysia after being prosecuted and sentenced in absentia last year to 18 months in jail for a 3.6-million-dollar illegal property scheme. He had allegedly and illegal sold his former political party headquarters and used the money to buy another property in his name.
Ranariddh had previous convictions, including 35 years prison term for allegedly plotting a coup with the Khmer Rouge while he was co-prime minister with Hun Sen.
Associated Press, "Cambodia: Hun Sen Victory Clear or Questioned? " dated 31 Jul 2008 in the SIIA website [downloaded on 29 September 2008], available athttp://www.siiaonline.org/?q=programmes/insights/cambodia-hun-sen-victor...
Channelnewsasia, "Pardoned Cambodian prince returns from exile " dated 28 September 2008 in Channelnewsasia website [downloaded on 29 September 2008], available at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/378930/1/.ht...
Guthrie, Craig, "Towards Hun Sen's Cambodia" dated 23 July 2008 in Asia Times website [downloaded on 29 September 2008], available athttp://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/JG23Ae02.html