More than 350 CPP officials gathered at the Apsara TV station Tuesday to celebrate the year’s successes and hear CPP President Chea Sim hail the upcoming commune elections.
In his statement, addressed to party officials from across the country, Chea Sim promised that his party was working “all the best to ensure that the elections are free, fair and transparent” as well as “free of violence and intimidation.”
With just 45 days remaining before Cambodians head to the polls in their country’s first-ever local elections, all seven other parties registered with the National Election Committee will be challenging the CPP at the grassroots level. The party has ruled Cambodia since the Vietnamese ousted the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.
The semi-annual CPP congress comes amid new international pressure on the ruling party to investigate and curb election violence. Last week, the US State Department issued a statement condemning the killings of 11 politically active men.
In his address to CPP delegates, Chea Sim focused mostly on rallying the party faithful to the cause.
“There are 45 days left to the election day. The time is approaching, and we must get busy,” said Chea Sim, who also serves as president of the Senate.
The preparations for the elections have gone relatively smoothly, Chea Sim said, and he thanked the delegates for helping organize the massive voter and candidate registrations held earlier this year.
The CPP controls most of Cambodia’s 1,621 communes, and many observers say control of those communes is politically essential, because commune chiefs have direct authority over common lands, divorce and other facets of daily life that greatly affect Cambodia’s mostly rural population.
In his address, Chea Sim also highlighted the May 24 agreement between his party and its former archrival, Funcinpec, which Chea Sim said has thoroughly strengthened the national coalition government and ensured a good atmosphere of security and stability for the election.
The party’s congress is scheduled to conclude today.