The CPP wrapped up its two-day extraordinary congress Sunday by reaffirming Prime Minister Hun Sen’s candidacy for the next premiership and pledging to continue the coalition with Funcinpec, which has been rocked by a string of high profile defections in recent months.
According to a resolution approved by the 900-strong congress, the CPP expects to gain more than its current 73 seats at the National Assembly in the upcoming 2008 national elections.
The party also pledged to adhere to election laws and regulations and maintain an environment such that the vote can be conducted in a free and just manner.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the conference emphasized the support Hun Sen enjoyed from CPP party members across the country. “In principle, we choose [Hun Sen] as the CPP’s only candidate for the next premiership,” he said.
Also discussed at the congress, Cheam Yeap said, was a general party platform with which party members would campaign to win a new term.
“We will employ 36 points for future policies that the party will follow,” he said, adding that those points focus mainly on political, social, economic and international affairs issues.
In his closing address to the conference Sunday, CPP President Chea Sim said the party could look back with pride on its achievements during 29 years in power. Since saving the nation from a genocidal regime, he said, the party has overcome countless obstacles in seeking peace and national reconciliation and has developed the nation in all sectors.
The CPP resolution promised that Funcinpec would be an integral part of its plan, despite the party losing several senior figures to the CPP over the last few weeks, including Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi and Minister of Cults and Religion Khun Haing.
The party will “continue close cooperation with Funcinpec and all patriotic circles in Cambodian society…to realize the implementation of the Royal Government’s political platform in the third-term legislature, while continuing sincere collaboration for national construction and development thereafter the elections,” it stated.
Cheam Yeap stressed that the CPP would continue its cooperation with Funcinpec, regardless of how many seats it won in the next election.
SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said that backing Hun Sen as prime minister again sent out to people the message that there was to be no improvement on the core issues of corruption and poverty alleviation.
“There is a desire for change among the people on the ground,” he said.
The affirmation of the coalition was meaningless because Funcinpec supporters were deserting the party, which would be wiped out in the 2008 election, Yim Sovann added. “The only choice now is the CPP or the SRP,” he said.
Funcinpec Deputy President Prince Sisowath Sirirath said his party was working hard to improve its position. “We will do our best to gain more votes than today so that we can maintain political strength and work better with the CPP,” he said.
Sisowath Sirirath also welcomed the candidacy of Hun Sen, saying he recognizes the prime minister’s abilities as a leader.
According to Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, the real issue at stake for the CPP in the coming elections is not necessarily how many seats they will win or lose but whether the elections are fair.
“They must aspire not only to win, but to win with integrity,” he said.