Senior CPP officials say Cambodia’s ruling party hopes to formally organize its efforts to retain power in next year’s commune elections, which have been largely ignored by the country’s predominately CPP-aligned commune chiefs.
In a series of largely congratulatory speeches on the first day of the CPP’s biannual gathering of its central committee members, Chea Sim and other senior party officials, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, praised the CPP’s progress as the driving force behind the government.
“The situation for the last two years benefited our party both nationally and internationally,” Chea Sim said.
With commune elections tentatively scheduled for next year, the CPP must begin mobilizing local candidates, party officials say. Both the Sam Rainsy and Funcinpec parties have already begun pushes for commune leadership, which is under the almost exclusive control of the CPP, which has done relatively little election preparation.
Hun Sen appealed for more women to run for commune leadership, an initiative that has broad support across the political spectrum. He also urged greater cooperation with other political parties, most notably Funcinpec.
Party officials gave no indication of rumored splits within the CPP and spokesman Khieu Kanharith said no discussion was had Friday about future candidates from the CPP for prime minister.
Hun Sen has repeatedly bristled at speculation that internal CPP politics or even force would end his reign as Cambodia’s leader. Speaking at a function last week, he said, “They cannot topple me by military means, assassinating me with a B-40 attack failed.”
Instead, Hun Sen said he would wait for the public to weigh in on his political fate.
“I belong to the people. If the people need me I will continue to be prime minister,” he said.
The CPP’s central committee members—most of whom were present Friday—are expected to review party activities during 2000 and approve a 2001 agenda, Chea Sim said.