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Cambodia Opposition: Democracy Replaced by 'Dictatorship'

Vice President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Mu Sochua (L) and CNRP's Deputy Director for Foreign Affairs, Monovithya Kem (R), hold a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 30, 2018.

The Cambodian opposition Monday called on the international community to reject the results of Sunday's election which ended with a victory of the ruling party and long-serving Prime Minster Hun Sen.

Opposition leader Mu Sochua, vice president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), said "29 July 2018 marked the death of democracy in Cambodia, a dark new day in recent history." She said democracy was replaced by an "outright dictatorship."

Cambodians headed to the polls Sunday for an election in which the only viable alternative party had been banned, helping the country’s prime minister of more than three decades to extend his reign even longer.

There was little doubt that the country’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) would win the ballot in a landslide following the dissolution of the only viable opponent, the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) late last year.

But the shadow the CNRP’s dissolution has cast over the credibility of the election was magnified even further this weekend when the government suddenly blocked the websites of more than a dozen critical news outlets, including the Voice of America’s Khmer service.

Shortly after polls opened Sunday, Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled for 33 years, arrived at his local station on the outskirts of Phnom Penh with his wife Bun Rany to cast a vote that many rights groups and observers say signaled the death knell for democracy in Cambodia.

“They don’t allow us to say anything today, we must follow the law,” Hun Sen told reporters before quickly leaving in a van.