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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, July 29, 2018 (Reuters) - Voter turnout for Cambodia’s general election on Sunday was 80.49 per cent, the National Election Commission (NEC) said.

In the previous general election in 2013 turnout was 69.61 per cent, or 6.73 million voters.

The announcement came after polls closed in the election which some have called a sham because of the lack of any credible opposition to long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“The total number of people who voted was 6.74 million or about 80.49 percent. This is the success of the election,” Sik Bun Hok, chairman of the NEC, said in a televised news conference.

“This time is higher,” he added. “Cambodia should be proud.”

HARARE, Zimbabwe, July 29, 2018 (AP) — Zimbabwe votes Monday in an election that could, if deemed credible, tilt the country towards recovery after years of economic collapse and repression under former leader Robert Mugabe. If it is flawed and disputed, as some predict, the southern African nation could slide deeper into upheaval.

There is another, muddier possibility: an imperfect election that is ultimately tolerated by many Zimbabweans and foreign governments preferring a measure of stability.

The contest pits President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s successor and former enforcer who now says he represents change, against Nelson Chamisa , the 40-year-old leader of an opposition targeted by violence and intimidation in the past.

“Whoever loses should accept defeat, the country needs to move on,” said Tapiwa Bhera, who stood in what has become a despairing symbol of Zimbabwe — a long line at a bank in the capital, Harare, in search of cash.

Others waiting disagreed.

“What’s wrong with asking for fairness? We are not moving if the wrong person is in office,” Agatha Mangena said, echoing the opposition’s vow to hold peaceful protests if Monday’s vote is thought to be flawed.

Some banks have started dispensing cash for the first time in months, a welcome turn in a country with hollowed-out industries and rampant unemployment. The hope is that a successful election, whatever the outcome, will lead to foreign investment and the lifting of international sanctions.

“Zimbabwe is open for business,” Mnangagwa said once again in his final campaign rally on Saturday.

Past elections under Mugabe were marred by violence and irregularities that benefited the ruling ZANU-PF party. Under Mnangagwa, however, Western election monitors are back in Zimbabwe for the first time in years and the opposition campaigned largely without police interference.

A record of more than 20 presidential candidates and nearly 130 political parties will participate in the election, vying for Zimbabwe’s 5.7 million registered voters. If no presidential candidate wins 50 per cent of the vote, a runoff will be held Sept. 8.

Despite the country’s new freedoms, Chamisa predicts that the election will be flawed because of the electoral commission’s alleged bias and problems with ballot papers and the voters’ roll. He told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday that he will lead peaceful protests if the vote is manipulated in favour of the ruling party.

“The abuse that people have been subjected to should not continue to be tolerated because then that would be, by interpretation, cowardice,” said Chamisa, who has drawn large crowds with his fiery speeches that draw on his work as a pastor and lawyer.

Some Zimbabweans wonder whether the ruling establishment and the military left by Mugabe can accept an opposition victory that might damage its interests or expose it to prosecution.

BAMAKO, Mali, July 29, 2018 (News Wires) — Voters in Mali are heading to the polls to select a president amid increasing attacks by extremist groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.

Voters expressed concern about being targeted after al-Qaida’s Mali branch warned against going to the polls. Deadly communal clashes between ethnic groups and accusations of heavy-handed counterterror operations also have complicated what President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita hopes will be a victory giving him a second term.

Keita, who was elected in 2013, faces 23 candidates in the first round.

His main challenger, Soumaila Cisse, has criticised the president for not addressing Mali’s rising insecurity.

Several political parties have expressed doubts about a valid election after duplicate and fictitious polling stations were listed on the electoral commission’s website. More than 8 million voters are registered.

ISLAMABAD, July 26, 2018 (News Wires) -- Pakistan was gripped by electoral chaos on Thursday with the outgoing ruling party denouncing "blatant rigging" in the pivotal general election and rejecting unofficial, partial results suggesting victory for former cricket champion Imran Khan.

Results were still being tallied Thursday, hours after Khan's supporters took to the streets to celebrate victory in an election opponents have said the powerful military rigged in his favour.

Local media said roughly half the votes had been counted more than 17 hours after polls closed, an unprecedented delay that has fuelled widespread fears over the legitimacy of the exercise.

But newspapers and television channels were predicting victory for Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, with the partial results giving him at least 100 seats so far in the National Assembly, the lower house.

A majority of 137 seats is needed to form a government.

PHNOM PENH, July 25, 2018 (Reuters) - Cambodia’s armed forces put on a show of power on Wednesday, displaying anti-riot gear and assault rifles at a sports stadium in the capital Phnom Penh ahead of a general election this weekend which some have criticised as a sham.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled the Southeast Asian nation for more than 30 years, is expected to win easily on Sunday after the main opposition party was dissolved last year and following a crackdown on dissent, including civil society and independent media.

A total of 4,625 police officers wearing flak jackets and armed with automatic rifles gathered at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh on Wednesday in a display meant to discourage any street protests during the election.

Phnom Penh’s Police Chief Chuon Sovann said that the forces will be deployed across the city to maintain security on Sunday.

“All of these forces have a duty to prevent, stop and crackdown on every case that leads to the obstruction of the election,” Chuon Sovann told the gathering forces.

Chuon Sovann said that police will stop any protests or those who urge others not to vote.

Authorities have said calls to boycott the vote are illegal, but rights groups argue the calls are not against the law.

Sunday’s election has been criticised by the United Nations and Western countries as fundamentally flawed after the Supreme Court last year dissolved the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and its leader, Kem Sokha, was imprisoned for treason.

Kem Sokha’s supporters say his jailing was politically motivated. He is currently in pre-trial detention near Cambodia’s border with Vietnam.

Kem Monovithya, Kem Sokha’s daughter, said that the display of force showed that the vote will be conducted under pressure.

“This is evidence that the election is not only being conducted without a viable opposition, it is also conducted under threat, forcing people to go to vote in a fake election,” Kem Monovithya told Reuters.

QUETTA, July 25, 2018 (AFP) - At least 28 people were killed and 35 wounded in a suicide attack on a polling station in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, officials said, as millions voted in a nationwide election on Wednesday.

“(The bomber) was trying to enter the polling station. When police tried to stop him he blew himself up,” a local administration official in Quetta, Hashim Ghilzai, told AFP. The incident and toll were confirmed by a second senior local official.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the explosion, according to the group’s AMAQ news agency.

Balochistan, Pakistan’s poorest and most restive province, suffers from Islamist and separatist insurgencies.

It was hit by several bombings during the brief but acrimonious election campaign — including a devastating blast claimed by the Islamic State group which killed 153 people this month, and was Pakistan’s deadliest ever suicide attack.

An earlier attack in the province on Wednesday left one policeman dead and three wounded when a hand grenade was thrown at a polling station in the village of Koshk, in Khuzdar district.

The military has stationed over 370,000 personnel across Pakistan to ensure security for the election, bolstered by an additional 450,000 police.

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