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CPP Could Be Secure in Big Win: Analyst

The Cambodian People's Party apparent landslide victory in Sunday's parliamentary election could spell difficulty for future political competition, a leading social analyst said Tuesday.

The CPP claims to have won 90 seats in the election, leaving 26 for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, three for the Human Rights Party, two for the Norodom Ranariddh Party and two for Funcinpec.

The vote was a "strong" turnout for Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has learned from prior losses and has taken precautions to serve people's interests in a way they can accept, said Chea Vannath, an independent social commentator.

Issues like peace, stability and the growing economy likely helped the CPP in this year's polls, she said.

If the CPP does indeed come into power with 90 seats when official numbers are released, it will mark a sharp turn-around from a loss in the Untac-sponsored 1993 elections. Those results were not accepted by the CPP and led to a coalition government with two prime ministers that terminated in a coup in 1997. Since then, Hun Sen has been squarely in power.

Chea Vannath said the government will now need to spend the next five years of its mandate working on poverty in urban areas, education, healthcare and the economy, in a country reliant on $600 million in foreign aid each year and where 35 percent of the rural population lives under $0.50 per day.

If the government is able to tackle these issues, it will be hard for other parties to mount any competition in the next election, Chea Vannath said. With those issues addressed, it would take a "serious phenomenon" like war or rampant inflation to favor opposition in the future, she said.

Still, even with only 26 seats, the opposition party can maintain a watchdog role, maintaining some balance in the National Assembly and working toward the development of the country, she said.