CPP President Chea Sim’s recent announcement that Prime Minister Hun Sen remains the party’s candidate for premier in next July’s national elections was premature but necessary to reassure the public, a top CPP official said Tuesday.
“Chea Sim’s announcement was too soon,” Chea Soth, who ranks sixth in the ruling party’s powerful Standing Committee, told reporters outside the National Assembly, saying such decisions are normally made by a party congress.
“But [the announcement] was not wrong; it was not a violation of procedure.”
Chea Soth, who is also a member of the Assembly, added: “The reason we announced that Prime Minister Hun Sen is our candidate for the premiership was merely to calm down the public, because the public and media were talking about a CPP rift over candidates but there was no dispute.”
In October, Hun Sen told the Assembly that he is the CPP’s only candidate for prime minister. “Only if Hun Sen withdraws or dies will there be a new candidate,” he said.
Last month, Chea Sim wrote in a statement that the CPP’s Central Committee had unanimously decided to appoint Hun Sen as the only candidate for prime minister. The CPP has not yet set a date for its party congress, Chea Soth said. The party last convened in June.
Asked about the upcoming elections, Chea Soth said he had no doubt his party would be the winner. “I believe that the CPP will absolutely win, because the people still believe in the party,” he said. “The people have seen the achievements of the party and its leader.”
The upcoming Day of Victory Over Genocide, which commemorates the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge on Jan 7, 1979 by Cambodian dissenters backed by Vietnamese troops, will be a rallying point for the party, he added.
“Jan 7 is the day that the people and all of us leaders stood up to overthrow the Khmer Rouge,” Chea Soth said.
“During the regime we could not tolerate the killing and brutality,” he said.