Sam Rainsy and Prince Norodom Ranariddh may be more known for their Parisian connections, but the CPP demonstrated Thursday a Franco-following of its own.
Two noisy caravans led by CPP representatives from Paris wound their way from Kandal province Thursday morning and converged at Phsar Thmei in Phnom Penh, where they were greeted by hundreds of supporters.
As Khmer music blared, supporters dressed in monkey costumes danced, and party members in the vehicles and on the ground waved their hands and shouted.
“As you know in Paris, there was a big headquarters for Funcinpec, but right now there are only CPP members,” boasted Chan Kheang, rally co-leader and the treasurer of the Parti du Peuple Cambodgien en France. The second convoy was led by Huy Saravith, secretary-general of the CPP in Paris.
The rally was more Khmer in style and mood than French, but the party supporters did wear T-shirts that bore the names of both the CPP and its Parisian counterpart.
Second Prime Minister Hun Sen’s name was displayed on the shirt shoulder.
Chan Kheang claimed that 70 trucks and cars were in each of the two convoys, which started in Kandal Stung and Muk Kampul districts in Kandal province south of Phnom Penh.
But observers estimated a lower number of vehicles, but as many as 2,000 supporters in all.
“We are very happy to vote for CPP, because CPP is the only party that can help the Cambodian people [escape] from the Pol Pot regime,” said 43-year-old Ros Chheng from Kandal Stung.
The CPP’s predecessor party was installed in power in 1979 when the Vietnamese ousted the Khmer Rouge regime.
Over the years, Hun Sen has been credited with keeping the Khmer Rouge from regaining power and, recently, with helping remove it as a threat.
Sour Kim Chek, a 63-year-old villager from Kandal Stung district in Kandal province, also noted CPP’s role in taking care of the average Cambodian.
CPP officials said this week that another rally is scheduled to go from Kandal province through Phnom Penh on Saturday. “It is not so necessary for the CPP to launch a campaign” to win the election, said Muth Khieu, a Hun Sen cabinet official.
But Muth Khieu said the party doesn’t want to be accused of winning the election by cheating and not campaigning.
(Additional reporting by Khuy Sokhoeun)