Cambodia’s ruling party swept the country’s Senate elections on Sunday, winning every seat in the legislature’s upper chamber in an all-but-predetermined contest that observers and analysts say is the latest symptom of the faltering political health of the southeast Asian country. Preliminary results from Sunday’s poll showed the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) claimed all 58 elected seats in the Senate, according to the National Election Committee (NEC), further entrenching the dominance of the CPP and Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia since 1985. The poll’s result demonstrates that the “death knell for democracy” in Cambodia is “ringing very loud and clear,” Mu Sochua, who was deputy president of the former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), told TIME in an email. Sochua, who has lived in exile since fleeing Cambodia in October under threat of arrest, called on the international community to “speak and act with one voice” to prevent Cambodia’s reversion to a “one-party state.”
The outcome was of little surprise, however, since the CNRP, the country’s leading opposition party, was formally dissolved in November last year. The party was seen as the only viable contender to the CPP and is just one victim of a crackdown that has seen political figures and critics threatened and driven into exile, and human rights advocates and journalists arrested and imprisoned ahead of nationwide elections expected next July. The ruling party also rescinded the licenses of over a dozen independent radio stations, cutting off broadcasters Radio Free Asia (RFA), Voice of America, and Voice of Democracy, and shuttering the English-language newspaper The Cambodia Daily. Most of the CNRP’s senior officials are now in exile; Kem Sokha, the CNRP’s last president, faces up to 30 years in prison on treason charges widely understood to be politically motivated.