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Democracy in Hands of the Winner: Group

Even though the Cambodian People's Party has ruled Cambodia for more than two decades and has now apparently won a landslide victory, the International Republican Institute said Friday it was unclear of the path of democracy.

The outcome would depend on how the election disputes are handled and whether the next government "feels it wants to pursue a democratic path," said IRI's Cambodia country director, John Willis. "A lot of things are in the hands of whoever wins the election and whatever government is formed."

With an apparent 90 National Assembly seats won out of 123, the ruling CPP will have a stronger hold on power, but CPP lawmaker Cheam Yiep said Friday the government would not turn authoritarian.

Meanwhile, Cambodia's grassroots democracy had improved, Willis said.

"Young people are getting more involved with politics," he said.

"We see that a lot of people understand democracy from year to year," said Ly Sothearayuth, a senior program officer for the National Democratic Institute.