In Candidates, CPP Seeks Youth; CNRP Wants Unity

Cambodia’s two major parties geared up on Thursday to start selecting nominees for next year’s commune elections, as the National Election Committee released a schedule for submitting candidate lists ahead of the June 4 election.

The ruling CPP said it would focus on choosing youth for “most” seats to replace aging incumbents, while the opposition CNRP said one of its priorities was merging commune-level offices still split between the legacy Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party, formerly led by deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha. The CNRP was formed in 2012 as an alliance between Mr. Sokha and CNRP president Sam Rainsy, giving it a massive boost ahead of national elections in 2013.

The deadline to receive the parties’ candidate lists has been set for March 5, while a 14-day campaigning period is to start on May 20 and end on June 2, with results set to be counted and posted on polling day, the National Election Committee said in a statement on Thursday.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the party planned to put forward youth candidates in “most” communes, though he would not confirm that he meant more than half of all seats.

“We need officials who are successors to strengthen our party,” Mr. Eysan said. “That’s our goal.”

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said his party would begin in January to bring together commune councilors elected under the old parties.

“Maybe six months before the election they’ll come together. They will be—some of them—nominated to the CNRP” list.

Instead of a set quota of candidates to be selected from each legacy party, local offices will pick nominees solely based on qualifications, Mr. Sovann said.

The unity between the two CNRP camps has appeared fragile recently while Mr. Rainsy remains in exile abroad over defamation convictions and Mr. Sokha has assumed a more prominent role in the party.

Mr. Sovann said he expected the merge to go smoothly at the commune level. “We don’t see any problem.”

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