Chea Sim Launches Congress, Praises King

Launching the CPP’s extraordinary congress on Thursday, party President Chea Sim spoke of the CPP’s achievements over the past five years and its plans for another term in government.

The CPP’s highest-ranking official also extended words of friendship to King Norodom Sihanouk at the end of a week in which Prime Minister Hun Sen and the King were perceived to have been involved in an indirect, but public, war of words and letters.

Though a life-long CPP stalwart, Chea Sim is a close friend of King Sihanouk and palace insiders say that both the monarch and party president mutually hold each other in high regard.

“As Cambodian People’s Party members from throughout the country, we would like to express our deepest greetings and gratitude to their majesties the King and Queen,” Chea Sim said in his  speech.

“We wish you good health to stay on to be the cool shade for all children,” Chea Sim said in front of 707 delegates attending the congress in a speech that also drew attention to the achievement of peace, stability, national reconciliation and poverty-reduction in Cambodia.

One CPP official noted that Chea Sim’s conciliatory remarks came in a week that witnessed Hun Sen’s attack on longtime critic Ruom Ritt, a childhood friend of the King who has for several years used a Royal Palace publication to write letters attacking Hun Sen’s rule.

Journalists were prevented from covering the congress and were ushered from the meeting as Hun Sen delivered his keynote speech.

Throughout the day, CPP leaders presented reports on their work over the past five years, including a report by party Secre­tary-General Say Chhum on the par­ty’s draft policy for 2003 to 2008. Deputy Prime Minister and co-Interior Minister Sar Kheng will deliver a report today regarding preparations for the July 27 general election.

CPP No 4 Say Phouthang was the only official missing from the powerful, 21-member Standing Committee, the CPP’s key decision-making body.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Doyle)

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