Almost 900 members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party gathered from across the country yesterday at party headquarters in Phnom Penh for the 35th meeting of the Central Committee.
The crowd included some 239 of the 268 members of the Central Committee, a group that includes Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was present, most ministers and top military leaders.
Senate President Chea Sim opened the two day-assembly with a speech, after which the meeting room was closed to journalists. He said the CPP-led government had achieved peace and security, citing the “push to reduce poverty after the financial crisis” and the country’s “successful defense,” an apparent reference to sporadic fighting on the border with Thailand.
Yesterday evening, Prak Sokhonn, a member of the Central Committee and a secretary of state with the Council of Ministers, declined to discuss details of the outcome of the first day of the conference. He did say that this was the first meeting of the Central Committee this year, and that the body usually assembles twice annually.
According to by-laws posted on the party’s website, the Central Committee’s tasks include finances, organization and external relations.
The Central Committee’s membership has ballooned from about 150 in 2005 to its current total of 268, although the list includes a handful of deceased members, such as the late national police chief Hok Lundy.
Mr Sokhonn said the committee’s membership has risen “to keep up with the needs of the work of the Central Committee,” citing the party’s increase in membership to more than five million people, first announced in 2007.
Yim Sovann, lawmaker and spokesman for the opposition SRP, said yesterday that the breadth of CPP membership and allegiance in the military and police threatens Cambodian democracy.
“RCAF and policemen should be neutral and independent, not the member of the party in a real democracy,” he said.