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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian political field halved for July elections

Cambodian political field halved for July elections

Cambodian political field halved for July elections

Only 12 parties have registered for parliamentary elections

in July, half the number that took part in the last vote, officials said on May

12.

"For this year, only 12 political parties have

registered," said Tep Nytha, secretary-general of the National Election

Committee (NEC).

The parties include Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's

Party (CPP), the royalist Funcinpec, Prince Norodom Ranariddh's new eponymous

party and the main opposition Sam Rainsy Party, historically the political

underdog.

The Khmer Republican Party, run by the son of former

Cambodian leader Lon Nol, a military general who toppled the country's

government in 1970, also registered, the NEC said.

Cambodia

has 57 political parties and 23 contested the 2003 elections.

Tep Nytha said the smaller line-up was due to

"unpreparedness and budget problems."

With the CPP so strong, small political parties don't hold

out much hope of success. They have also been overshadowed by new parties led

by prominent figures including the Human Rights Party led by Hun Sen opponent Kem

Sokha.

Some 8,124,391 people registered to vote before the February

deadline.

Hun Sen – the longest-serving elected premier in Southeast Asia with 23 years in power – and his CPP are

considered certain winners.

The last general elections in July 2003 saw the Kingdom

plunged into a year of political stalemate as parties wrangled over forming a

coalition. A government was finally formed in July 2004.

Hun Sen, 55, has repeatedly said he will stay on as prime

minister if the CPP wins.

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