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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Content CPP celebrates its 56th birthday

Content CPP celebrates its 56th birthday

It was a day of partisan pride as more than 10,000 CPP faithful gathered at party

headquarters June 28 to celebrate the ruling party's 56th anniversary and proclaim

itself the "center of harmonization" in Cambodia.

Amid the expected rhetoric was talk of political inclusion and past accomplishments,

as party leaders looked an upcoming "Fourth mandate" as a time of prosperity

and peace.

"The national and international public have witnessed the fact that when the

CPP is in control everyone enjoys living in peace," Party President Chea Sim

said in a speech. "We have brought about re-building and strengthening of democracy,

freedom, human rights and the rule of law while continuing to uphold national prestige,

a state of equality with other countries in the region, and especially providing

a positive model of peaceful settlement."

Sim even took the defensive and called for other unnamed political parties to ease

up on aggressive tactics ahead of the 2008 vote.

"The CPP has never sought to be an enemy of any political party even though

individuals from some political parties continue to spread their words of hatred

and animosities or to reveal their nurtured revenges against the CPP if they were

to win the election," Sim said.

Cheam Yeap, member of the CPP's Standing Committee, predicted that the CPP's commitment

to reform of the economy, armed forces and the judicial system will win over voters.

"Our party is leading the country toward success step by step, even if there

are some areas we need to improve in order to expand our economic growth and eliminate

poverty and corruption," Yeap told the Post.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said that since 1998 the Cambodian people

have viewed the CPP as the only guarantee for

"stability, continuity and reliability."

Puthea Hang, executive director of local election monitoring NGO NICFEC, said that

even if there is still not a real democracy in Cambodia, the CPP has changed its

political trends from the socialist to the democratic.

"Well, congratulations to the CPP. It'd be nice if they became a democratic

party sooner than later. It's obvious they've learned to use PR in many ways and

to spin many of the events.

Now they're committing some of their oppression in a much cleaner way," said

Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

"It's amazing they can continue to be run by one man, and continue to intimidate

their rivals and control the media, the courts, the bar association. And it appears

they can just continue to do all that and get praise from the donors and walk off

with all that money."

Koul Panha, executive-director of Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia,

said that while in control of the government the CPP has changed from communist to

free market tactics.

"But what hasn't changed much are the human resources in the government. They

are not independent because they are appointed from within the ranks of the CPP only,"

Panha said.

"I think that most of the human resources within the CPP are from the 1980s,

therefore the way they do their jobs remains a communist way."

Founded June 28, 1951 by Son Ngoc Minh and Tou Samouth, the party, during its years

underground, became the Communist Party of Kampuchea in 1966, and later KR-era breakaway

elements regrouped, ousted the KR and renamed it the Cambodian People's Party (CPP)

in 1991.



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