Hun Sen Says Ranariddh His Only Partner

Prime Minister Hun Sen was rubber stamped as the CPP’s sole candidate for the post of premier in the forthcoming general election at the close of the party’s congress on Friday. The congress also decided that CPP coalition with Funcinpec hinges on Prince Norodom Ranariddh remaining the leader of the royalist party.

The CPP’s two-day extraordinary congress, which was last held in 1997, also agreed on an 11-point policy for the next five years which mixed—in equal measures—concerns for the poor with full investment in free market economics.

Congratulating the success of his own congress, Hun Sen said it was a good sign that the forthcoming election would also be held in a secure, neutral but also competitive political atmosphere.

“This is a special point,” Hun Sen told reporters after the congress.

“We will not do work with any other party, except the Funcinpec Party. But Funcinpec must be clear, the party must be led by Prince Norodom Ranariddh or we won’t do it. This is a point of life or death for us,” Hun Sen said.

Amid speculation that the opposition Sam Rainsy Party may replace the royalist party for second place in the elections, Hun Sen has increasingly pinned his colors to the royalists, rejecting outright any possibility of a coalition with Sam Rainsy.

However, Sam Rainsy has said a coalition with the CPP was possible but only if the ruling party sidelined Hun Sen as its leader.

Hun Sen’s public support for his political opponent Prince Ranariddh follows comments on Tuesday in which the prince rejected any possibility of him stepping aside if Funcinpec fares badly in the July polls.

Despite dismal showing in last year’s commune elections, Prince Ranariddh said he would lead Funcinpec to victory.

The CPP congress resolution also referred to the party’s victory in the commune election as proof that the “Cambodian people still remain supportive and confident in the leading role of the Cam­bodian People’s Party both at national and local level.”

A CPP 11-point policy paper for 2003-2008 was also unveiled at the congress which was thick with plans for Cambodia and it people, but devoid of detail.

High on the CPP list of things-to-do was poverty reduction, “strengthening” the judicial system, paying soldiers, police and other civil servants “appropriate” salaries and ensuring economic growth and creating jobs through more exports and investment in agriculture.

Ecological-friendly tourism and the equal distribution of wealth through increased budgetary spending on the social sector were also included.

“This declaration has clearly defined the CPP vision, strategy and political line to build and develop the country on all do­mains with the objective of mobilizing the great national solidarity’s forces,” the resolution stated.

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