Sunday, 27 July 2008

Patriotism expected to give victory to Cambodian PM

Cambodian supporters of royalist Funcinpec party wave national flags during the last day of campaign for the general elections in Kampong Cham province.

WA Today

PHNOM PENH. A surge of patriotism has swept through Cambodia, bolstering the popularity of Prime Minister Hun Sen as the nation heads into a parliamentary election today.

The country has rallied around its leader as its troops face off for a second week against Thai soldiers at a disputed temple on the Thai-Cambodian border.

Mr Hun Sen is expected to win overwhelmingly, extending a 23-year rule that is already the longest of any elected leader in South-East Asia, although that victory will owe much to other factors, reflecting the country's move beyond its Khmer Rouge years to something approaching normalcy.

Under Mr Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party, the economy has been growing in recent months, though steep inflation has brought new pain. Its political structure is more stable than ever, though it is the stability of autocratic rule.

"For a great part of the population, life is now similar to the lives of people in neighbouring countries," said Roderick Brazier, the Asia Foundation's representative for Cambodia

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