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Parties Wrap Up Election Campaigns

Parties competing in Sunday's election took advantage of the final day of the campaign season Friday, with marches, parades and motorcades in the capital and the provinces.

Thousands of supporters rallied around their parties, waving flags, sporting shirts and caps and taking one last shot at drawing voters to the polls.

The Cambodian People's Party is widely expected to dominate the election Sunday, but other parties continued to campaign Friday, battling for their share of the 123 National Assembly seats up for grabs.

In Phnom Penh, supporters of the CPP, Sam Rainsy, Human Rights, Funcinpec and Norodom Ranariddh parties moved around town in trucks and on foot, banging drums, shouting slogans and blaring loud theme music.

CPP officials said they gathered nearly 30,000 supporters, led by Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema, who called out to supporters: "A vote for CPP is a vote for development and poverty reduction" and "Vote for the CPP for a prosperous future for children and youth."

His calls were met with cries from the crowd: "Long live the CPP for the country of Cambodia!"

The Sam Rainsy Party meanwhile gathered nearly 10,000 supporters in a march through the city.

The opposition leader, who was campaigning in Kampong Cham Friday, recorded remarks to be broadcast to supporters through loudspeakers.

"Hun Sen now does not resolve the high price of goods," Sam Rainsy said. "If Hun Sen continues to lead Cambodia, goods will increase in price."

Activists shouted, "Vote for the Sam Rainsy Party to decrease the high price of goods, to have a proper job, and [medical] treatment without charge."

The Human Rights Party estimated 8,000 supporters joined in marches around the capital. Before marching, the top leaders of the party, including its president, Kem Sokha, addressed a crowd of supporters.

"Vote for the Human Rights Party to change the current leadership," Kem Sokha said. "Vote to change the leader of toad-stepping policies and the leader of corruption."

Supporters shouted back, "Vote for the Human Rights Party for change, change, change."

"You change?" supporters called to each other. "We change, we change," came the response.

The self-named party of exiled Prince Norodom Ranariddh was able to gather 4,000 supporters in Phnom Penh, officials estimated.

"Party No. 1 helps the nation," called Muth Chantha, a Phnom Penh candidate for the party, referring to his NRP's position on Sunday's ticket.

"The absence of Prince Norodom Ranariddh has not made us defeated before the betrayers," Muth Chantha said. "On 27 July we will vote for Prince Norodom Ranariddh."

Funcinpec, meanwhile, estimated 3,000 supporters in the capital.

Secretary-General Nhiek Bunchhay, who is a candidate for Battambang province, said in a recorded message a "vote for Funcinpec is a vote for development and for the king and for security for human rights and the rule of law."