Cambodians rally ahead of polls as US warns of intimidation

Cambodia’s main opposition party believes it has momentum on its side in next month’s local elections, which will gauge the support for Prime Minister Hun Sen ahead of national polls next year.

The U.S. State Department called on the government to avoid threats and political intimidation as the two-week campaigning for the June 4 communal elections started Saturday with tens of thousands of supporters of Hun Sen’s ruling party and the main opposition party flooding the streets of the capital.

Hun Sen has ruled for three decades, and he has warned of civil war if voters do not support his ruling Cambodian People’s Party. In the last communal elections in 2012, his party received 60 percent of the vote compared to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party’s 30.6 percent.

But the opposition now says it has a better chance of winning after it nearly upset the ruling party in general elections in 2013, triggering its boycott of the legislature that ended with the opposition returning to parliament after it struck a deal with the…

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