Explosion mars Cambodia's general election

 

A small home-made bomb exploded outside the headquarters of Cambodia's royalist FUNCINPEC party on Sunday, police said, marring an otherwise peaceful election day in the troubled southeast Asian nation.

The discovery of two grenades in a plastic bag near the Royal Palace dealt a further blow to the fledgling democracy and its slow, sometimes violent journey back from the horrors of the 1970s Khmer Rouge genocide.

"A home-made bomb exploded about half an hour ago," military police official Khan Sokhom said. One person was slightly injured in the blast which left scorch marks on pavement around 30 yards (metres) from the FUNCINPEC gates, officials said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, an ex-Khmer Rouge soldier, and his Cambodian People's Party (CPP) looks set to win another five years in power, with support coming from many voters who revere him for overseeing the final Khmer Rouge surrender in 1998.

Official results are not due until August 8th due to the problems of retrieving ballot-boxes - in some cases by elephant - from remote jungle outposts. However, a fair idea of the outcome should be available tomorrow evening.

Although critics say he rules with an iron fist, Hun Sen has brought much-needed stability to a country suffering the legacy of 30 years of civil war, including the Khmer Rouge genocide.

An estimated 1.7 million people were executed or died of starvation, disease or torture in Pol Pot's ultra-Maoist rural labour camps which became known as the "Killing Fields".