Opposition leader Kem Sokha told supporters on Saturday that the CNRP would do more to encourage youths to become lawmakers ahead of next year’s national election, citing some young candidates’ successes in commune elections earlier this month.
While meeting with his party’s supporters in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district, Mr. Sokha said the CNRP expected to add more youths to its ticket next year—not a particularly difficult task, given only 7 percent of the party’s candidates in the commune elections were under the age of 36.
“We are determined to push and encourage more youths to become leaders,” he said, adding that “we were victorious in the commune elections because of [the youths’] good activities, and because people loved and liked them.”
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said on Sunday that the ruling party—whose youth proportion was slightly lower than the CNRP’s, with 6 percent of candidates under the age of 36—wouldn’t “copy” the opposition’s youth-centered policy.
“The CPP’s policy is different from other parties’,” Mr. Eysan said. “Our policy is to train our human resources, to ensure our country has efficient affairs.”
Young people comprise an important voting bloc in the country, with about one-third of voters who registered for the June 4 commune elections aged between 18 and 30.
National Election Committee spokesman Hang Puthea said on Sunday that he didn’t have data on the success of youth candidates who ran for the commune chief spots, saying it was “too much detail.”
Mr. Sokha used a speech in Kompong Cham province on Sunday to once again jab the CPP over its claims of victory in the commune elections, made despite the ruling party losing its share of the vote compared to 2012.
“Some people, they tried to lie, they tried to say they win, win, win. But their victory has gone down,” Mr. Sokha said.
The CPP’s Mr. Eysan dismissed Mr. Sokha’s comments, saying the opposition leader can “say what he wants, but we still win as well.”