Cambodia holds first local elections

Cambodians have voted in the country's first local elections.

Cambodians have voted in the country's first local elections.

It comes amid opposition allegations of irregularities and cheating that would favour Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling party.

Hun Sen did not cast his ballot, claiming neutrality. International observers criticised his decision, saying it sends the wrong message in polls that are seen as a key step toward democracy.

Meanwhile, violence that had marred the run-up to the polls continued unabated.

The body of Ban Bon, 46, a candidate of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, was found hanging in his house, party official Chan Cheng said. Police ruled the death a suicide, but Chan Cheng said he suspected foul play.

On Friday, Sao Savon, 31, a member of an independent election monitoring group was killed in the eastern province of Svay Rieng. He had been stabbed and shot in the eyes after apparently being tortured, his boss, Hang Puthea, said.

The Sam Rainsy Party also reported scores of electoral violations.

The voting is to elect councils that will govern 1,621 communes, or clusters of villages, across the country. More than 70,000 candidates are vying for some 10,000 seats.

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