By SOPHENG CHEANG and GRANT PECK
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Campaigning for Cambodia’s general election has officially begun. It’s an exercise that serves more as an affirmation of a nominally democratic process than a prelude to a genuine contest. Eighteen parties are contesting this year’s polls in which around 9.7 million people are eligible to vote. The campaign period ends on July 21 with election day coming two days later. Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power for 38 years. His ruling Cambodian People’s Party is virtually guaranteed a landslide victory. Supporters of Hun Sen’s ruling party marched en masse in the capital Phnom Penh to launch their campaign on Saturday.