CPP Politicos Take Campaigns to Provinces

Second Prime Minister Hun Sen might not be officially campaigning, but the rest of the CPP slate certainly is.

Interior co-Minister Sar Kheng has been in Battambang the past couple of weeks, handing out rice, MSG, T-shirts and Tiger balm with the party’s logo.

He’s not alone: Most all CPP candidates are campaigning in the pro­vinces right now. “I think it’s more than in 1993,” Oum Mean, an aide to CPP Cab­inet Dir­ector Ith Sam Heng, said Thurs­day, just minutes after he returned from out of town.

“We think the most people who support the party are in the countryside,” he said at the party’s headquarters. “In Phnom Penh, there’s only about a half-million [people]. There’s 10 million in the countryside.”

As in 1993, most are running in provinces where they grew up or have worked extensively. The CPP hopes the attention in part helps the party improve on its disappointing results in 1993, when it came in second to Funcinpec.

The CPP also has created a special electoral commission, one section of which deals exclusively with what Oum Mean explained as “structural strengthening,” or “checking, controlling and enlarging” membership. “In 1993, we had about 3 million members, but only 1 1/2 million voters supported us,” Oum Mean said. “We had so many, many members that we had to find out who our real mem­bers were and to ask what they wanted and needed, and why they didn’t vote for us.”

Some said they wanted to go with a newer party, Oum Mean said. CPP also blamed election irregularities for its 1993 showing.

Today, CPP hopes its claimed 3 million-plus members out of some 5.3 million registered voters will stay true. Oum Mean confirmed that CPP’s plan calls for winning about 60 percent of the  122 National Assembly seats.

But CPP officials recently have articulated more conservative goals. Kyodo News Service last week re­ported that Hun Sen predicted to a Japanese official the CPP would win 45 to 65 seats.

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