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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CPP backs Hun Sen for election

CPP backs Hun Sen for election

CPP backs Hun Sen for election

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Tang Chhin Sothy

CPP senior officials, Heng Samrin, Chea Sim, Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany release doves at a ceremony marking the anniversary of the 1979 overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime.

The ruling Cambodian People's Party announced it has ambitious plans for the next

six months as it officially nominated Prime Minister Hun Sen as its candidate in

the national elections.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the 29th anniversary of the 1979 Vietnamese ouster

of the Khmer Rouge, CPP officials also used the occasion to blast opposition parties

for trying to distort the importance of Victory Day, who have labeled it Invasion

Day to disparage the CPP. The January 7 date marks the launch of an era of CPP power

that has held firm for decades.

More than 10,000 party members and high ranking officials attended the Victory Day

celebration at CPP headquarters on Norodom Blvd.

Chea Sim, president of the Senate, said the CPP will organize its General Assembly

in the coming weeks to evaluate its accomplishments of the last five years. In addition

CPP will approve new programs in national construction and defense for 2008-2013,

he said.

In nominating Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen as candidate for prime minister

in the upcoming parliamentary elections July 27, Sim also appealed to the population

to keep the elections free from violence. He urged people to vote for the party that

will guarantee peace, stability, democracy and development.

Cheam Yeap, member of the CPP's Permanent Committee and lawmaker told the Post that

January 7 Victory Day is a core component of the CPP's election campaign.

The date was declared to be a national holiday by King Father Norodom Sihanouk.

"We gain votes because of the historic reputation that the CPP liberated people

from the genocide regime," Yeap said.

Yeap accused opposition politicians in particular the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) and

Funcinpec of not supporting January 7 as a Victory Day. "Some politicians have

expressed support for January 7, but it was just a game to gain votes," Yeap

said.

Prince Sisowath Sirirath, Funcinpec Second Deputy President, said in an interview

while Funcinpec used to argue against the CPP ties with Vietnam the position is no

longer relevant in Cambodia's current political climate.

"Funcinpec closed that page of political history after the elections in 1993.

We are partners and we have to cooperate with each other."

Sam Rainsy, President of SRP, said it is important to point out a continuing disagreement

as to whether January 7 should be viewed as a day of liberation or of foreign invasion.

"We need to explain so people understand that it was the day that Cambodia lost

its independence and territorial sovereignty," said Rainsy.

"We have to weaken the effectiveness of the CPP. We have many strategic plans."

Rainsy said the CPP has manipulated the National Election Committee and created irregularities

in the voter registration process, causing more than 300,000 eligible voters to lose

their voting rights because they don't support the CPP.

Others pointed out that it's fair game for the political parties to use the holiday

as a campaign issue.

"We found that there were two points of view about this day. The opposition

party takes it as core of its election campaign against the CPP as the day of the

Vietnamese invasion in the country," said Puthea Hang, executive director of

Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, a local

elections observer NGO.

"However it is right of the politicians to give a definition in order to gain

votes."

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