It was standing room only at CPP headquarters in Phnom Penh June 28 morning, as thousands of party supporters turned up to celebrate the 56th anniversary of the founding of the ruling party.
Speaking at the hour-long ceremony, CPP and Senate President Chea Sim heaped praise upon his party’s decades-old history, calling the CPP “the leading political force born out of a people’s movement.”
“Fifty-six years of the party’s existence…have proven already its enduring nature and capability, where it is widely known that the [CPP] is a party of the people, by the people and for the people,” Chea Sim told the crowd, borrowing from US president Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address.
Chea Sim also told the crowd that Prime Minister Hun Sen was the party’s unanimous choice for the premiership should the CPP win the 2008 national election.
Hun Sen, however, was absent from the ceremony, apparently due to a minor illness.
National Assembly and CPP Honorary President Heng Samrin said by telephone that Hun Sen did not attend because he had caught a cold after trekking through the rain while searching for the PMT Air plane that crashed in Kampot province June 25.
“It’s normal when someone is sick,” he said.
Chea Sim told the crowd that the CPP, which he called the “sole force behind the national salvation” from the Khmer Rouge regime, still firmly supports the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
“We sincerely hope that this tribunal will be conducted smoothly and successfully to bring peace, stability and justice,” he said.
The CPP also plans to continue its coalition partnership with Funcinpec after the 2008 election, Chea Sim said.
Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said Chea Sim’s remarks were evidence of the CPP’s faith in Funcinpec’s leaders. “We will continue to cooperate with the CPP,” he added.
The CPP’s National Assembly Deputy President Nguon Nhel said that similar ceremonies were being held at the same time in every province.
He added that he had presided over the party’s celebration in his home province of Kompong Thom, which he said was attended by 3,000 people.
The CPP traces its lineage back to the June 28, 1951 founding of the Khmer People’s Revolutionary Party.