Cambodia polls close as Hun Sen seeks re-election

The BBC's Karishma Vaswani: "The outcome of this election is pretty much known"

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Polls have closed in Cambodia's parliamentary election, with PM Hun Sen, one of Asia's longest-serving leaders, seeking another term.

His Cambodia People's Party (CPP) faced an opposition led by Sam Rainsy - back from self-imposed exile after a royal pardon in July.

Mr Rainsy himself was not eligible to stand, but his recent return has strengthened the opposition's campaign.

More than nine million people were eligible to vote.

'Flocking to vote'

Polling stations closed at 15:00 local time (08:00 GMT), the National Election Committee (NEC) said, with results expected later in the day.

At the scene

Polling booths were packed this morning with thousands of Cambodians lining up to cast their vote.

Although there are eight parties contesting, only two of them really count - the governing Cambodian People's Party run by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been running things in Cambodia for the past 28 years, and the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party run by Sam Rainsy, who isn't allowed to contest these elections.

Mr Rainsy has said that decision is further evidence of democracy being eroded in this country. Observers have warned of polling irregularities and activists claim voting lists have been tampered with.

At the polling station we visited, at least three people came up to me to tell me they couldn't find their names on the lists. Others said the election ink used was easily washed off, leading to fears that people could vote again without being detected.

The CPP is widely expected to win.

The main opposition, the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), led by Mr Rainsy, said there had been widespread fraud, with some voters unable to find their names on electoral lists.

But the NEC insisted there had been no problem with the lists.

Mr Hun Sen, 60, was among the early voters, casting his ballot shortly after polls opened near his home in Takmau, south of the capital Phnom Penh.

He has been Cambodia's prime minister for nearly three decades and has expressed the desire to stay in power for another.

Mr Rainsy, 64, visited a polling station near his party's office in Phnom Penh where supporters greeted him enthusiastically.

"I am happy to see people flocking to vote," he said.

The CPP, which enjoys considerable support in the countryside, currently has 90 of the 123 seats in parliament and has been increasing its majority over the years.

This is due in part to Mr Hun Sen being widely credited with achieving economic growth after the devastation caused by the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, which was responsible for one of the worst mass killings of the 20th Century.

Sam Rainsy, left, and Hun Sen at polling stations Sam Rainsy, left, and Hun Sen met supporters at polling stations

The CNRP is aiming to win seats with the promise of political change.

The opposition is a merger between the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party.

In 2010 Mr Rainsy was sentenced in absentia to 11 years in prison, on a series of charges he says were politically motivated.

Analysts believe that younger voters may help the opposition.

However, most of the country's media is controlled by the government.

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