Breathing new life into its revolutionary-era Solidarity Front for Building and Defending Cambodian Motherland, the ruling CPP officially changed the name of its “mass movement” on Saturday to the Solidarity Front for the Development of Cambodia Motherland.
Meeting on Saturday for the first time since 1989, the Solidarity Front for Building and Defending Cambodian Motherland, which was referred to in the official literature simply as the “Front,” marked it fifth ever assembly by changing its name and appointing the CPP’s three top leaders to the leadership of the new Front.
The meeting, which rallied several hundred participants at the Chaktomuk Theatre, affirmed that the Front’s new NGO-like image and status would not deviate from the original goals of the Front’s first assembly of Dec 2, 1978, when it was then known as the Solidarity Front for Salvaging Cambodia Organization.
The congress appointed CPP President Chea Sim to be the new Front’s president of honorary members; Heng Samrin, CPP honorary president, to be the president of the Front’s national council; and Prime Minister Hun Sen to be a member of the honorary council.
Thirty honorary members were appointed, 391 national council members and 27 permanent members, said Sok An, minister of the Council of Minister, during the congress, whose proceedings were broadcast on Apsara TV.
Representatives of the Motherland Front of Vietnam, the National Building Front of Laos, and the Public Movement Organization of the People’s Republic of China were also in attendance at the congress.
The three sister Fronts were praised for their participation and “sharing good experiences related to Front work and public organizations.”
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap—who mentioned on Friday that the Front was now a registered NGO with the Interior Ministry—said on Sunday that, despite the somewhat archaic language, the Front was in no way hearkening back to Cambodia’s socialist past.
“The Front is to develop the country, it is not to build socialism,” said Cheam Yeap, adding that ordinary people can volunteer to help in the Front’s work or can contribute money, which will be used by the government to help the people.
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that people would be confused by the ruling party in government establishing a “non-governmental” organization.