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Jakarta Post

Cambodia PM Facebook hacked to 'give away parliament seats'

  • News Desk

    Agence France-Presse

Phnom Penh, Cambodia    /   Fri, August 10, 2018   /   04:09 pm
Cambodia PM Facebook hacked to 'give away parliament seats' Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (right) prepares to cast his vote during the general election as his wife Bun Rany (left) looks on in Phnom Penh on July 29, 2018. Cambodia went to the polls early on July 29 in an election set to be easily won by strongman premier Hun Sen after the only credible opposition was dissolved last year, effectively turning the country into a one-party state. (AFP/Manan Vatsyayana)

Hackers targeted the official Facebook page of Cambodia's premier Hun Sen on Friday and falsely claimed he would cede several parliamentary seats, an official said, after the strongman swept last month's election virtually uncontested.

The long-serving leader's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) is expected to take all 125 spots in parliament when official results are announced next week, cementing Cambodia's status as a one-party state.

But on Friday, hackers broke into Hun Sen's official Facebook page and said the CPP would give away four seats to other parties, a ruling party spokesman confirmed to AFP.

The perplexing message was up for about an hour and got some 3,300 "likes" before it was removed.

"The news was fake," Sok Eysan told AFP, confirming there are no plans to share seats with any other parties.

He said Hun Sen's account was likely hacked by "opposition groups or traitors or outlawed rebels."

The post claimed the seats would go to Funcinpec Party and the League for Democracy Party, both small political parties in Cambodia that took a slim margin of votes last month.

The controversial election was held without the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on the ballot after it was dissolved by a Cambodian court last year and one of its leaders Kem Sokha jailed and accused of treason.

The CNRP won 44 percent of the vote in the last elections, the most credible challenge to Hun Sen's rule since he came to power 33 years ago.

The 66-year-old leader eagerly embraced social media in the run-up to the election in a bid to win support from the youth in Cambodia, where two-thirds of the population of 16 million people are under 30. 

His Facebook page has 10 million likes, but he has come under fire for allegedly buying support from so-called "click farms", which he denies.

His elections campaign also coincided with the silencing of critics in the media and civil society, and his overwhelming election majority drew criticism from the United States and the European Union.

Voter turnout was more than 80 percent, though more than 600,000 of ballots were spoiled and considered inadmissible, sparking concerns of voter intimidation.