Senior CPP officials left their fiery rhetoric and political sniping at the door Friday and instead took a calm, almost populist tone during their 51st party congress, asking for continued cooperation with their royalist coalition government partners and calling on the memory of Cambodia’s decades-long struggle for stability.
“The CPP is the only party that stood up against the genocidal regime of Democratic Kampuchea. The CPP stands with the people to share the happiness and sorrow,” party president Chea Sim told the nearly 2,000 people gathered at the party headquarters.
“The CPP and the people are one,” he said.
Chea Sim also said the ruling party wanted to reaffirm its stance to keep the country’s coalition government strong through next year’s national elections.
This pitch to Funcinpec comes at the end of a week marked by surprisingly aggressive statements from royalist officials, who have opened fire on Prime Minister Hun Sen and pushed for reform of the historically CPP-controlled National Election Committee.
In a move that provoked the most heated response from CPP officials, Funcinpec announced that this year it would publicly commemorate those who died in the July 1997 fighting—an event many see as the moment Hun Sen took total control of the government and solidified his party’s dominance over Funcinpec.
Despite the overall conciliatory mood of the congress, Chea Sim did lash out at some politicians for their “lack of conscience,” singling out the recent border problems as an issue where legislative meddling has hurt relations between Cambodia and its neighbors.
A delegation of National Assembly members, led by Funcinpec legislator Princess Norodom Vicheara, traveled to the Cambodian-Vietnamese border, where they reported land seizures by the Vietnamese and demanded a response from the Cambodian government.
On Friday Chea Sim praised the government for solving recurring border disputes through “peaceful means,” and urged the political parties to join the government in its “constructive” solutions to land grabbing.
“Untrue and irresponsible talk only causes complications,” Chea Sim said, apparently taking a shot at the continued grumbling of some legislators that the government is not doing enough to protect Cambodia from land grabs.