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Ruling party gets expected win in Cambodian Senate

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s party secured an expected victory at Senate elections Sunday, according to preliminary results following the vote that was closed to the general population and criticized for lacking credibility.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party won almost 78 percent of votes, while the opposition Sam Rainsy Party won almost 22 percent, Election Commission chairman Im Suosdey told reporters. Official results were expected Feb. 4.

The 61-seat Senate has no power to amend or veto legislation and is widely seen as an ineffectual body that rubber-stamps bills from the lower house, or National Assembly, which the ruling party dominates.

The National Assembly and some 11,300 local officials vote to fill 57 of the Senate seats. Two of the seats are appointed by King Norodom Sihamoni and two by the lower house.

Local monitoring groups have denounced the Senate elections, saying they do not reflect the will of the people and that a sweep by Hun Sen’s party is a foregone conclusion, given its dominance in the lower house.

In the last Senate election in 2006, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party won 45 seats, followed by the royalist Funcinpec party with 10. Two seats went to the opposition Sam Rainsy Party.

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