Prime Minister Steps Up Public Appearances

Prime Minister Hun Sen is scheduled to make 18 appearances in the countryside at various ground-breaking and inauguration ceremonies in the next two months, a tentative government schedule states.

The premier will attend a groundbreaking ceremony for a pagoda in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district today, the last day of the Khmer New Year holiday. He is scheduled to inaugurate a school in the same district on May 12.

Between this Saturday and June 10, Hun Sen will travel to eight of Kompong Cham’s 16 districts to inaugurate a dam, attend a ceremony to inaugurate a rural road and a pagoda and preside over the ground-breaking of six pagodas, according to the schedule. One of Hun Sen’s visits to the province will be to Stung Trang district, his homeland, on May 15.

Kompong Cham and Kandal are Cambodia’s two most populous provinces. Hun Sen will also make two stops in Prey Veng province, another highly populated province, in coming weeks.

The busy travel schedule follows a similarly active schedule in late March and early April which saw the prime minister travel by helicopter to seven different provinces within a week to inaugurate bridges, schools, roads and pagodas.

At each of his stops, Hun Sen’s speeches were aired on national radio. In some of his speeches, the prime minister criticized his political rivals. The more frequent appearances and speeches caused Center for Social Develop­ment President Chea Vannath to say earlier this month that the prime minister is campaigning to strengthen the CPP ahead of the July 27 national elections.

CPP spokesman Khieu Kan­harith has denied that Hun Sen’s trips to the provinces are linked to the elections. And Sok Soriya, an official in Hun Sen’s Cabinet, has said that the prime minister’s busy provincial schedule is due to the fact that there are more “achievements” to inaugurate.

“[His visits] were requested by the people,” Sok Soriya said.

In addition to his appearances in Kompong Cham, Kandal and Prey Veng, Hun Sen’s schedule also states that he will make at least one appearance each in Battambang, Pursat, Takeo, Kampot, Kompong Speu and Kompong Thom provinces in April and May.

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