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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Governing parties cement their reign

Governing parties cement their reign

The two congresses held last month by the Kingdom's governing political parties

ended with strategies for upcoming elections and resolutions to forge even

closer coalition ties at all levels government.

According to their

respective agendas, the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and Funcinpec

aimed at building solidarity and cooperation in the government, legislature and

other state institutions in the spirit of national reconciliation.

"We

highly value the fruitful cooperation between the CPP and Funcinpec, our

inseparable partner," CPP President Chea Sim wrote on the party's Web site on

November 30.

Hun Sen, Prime Minister and vice president of the CPP,

avoided reporters after the party's November 23 extraordinary congress. However,

on the CPP's Web site he wrote that the continued cooperation between CPP and

Funcinpec is considered to be Cambodia's prime opportunity to preserve peace and

stability and would heal the scars left behind by the decades-long

war.

"Concession and stability are invaluable, but it is not easy to

obtain and safeguard them. Peace is key to ensuring co-existence and cooperation

to prevent internal disintegration and hostility," said Hun Sen.

CPP

forces defeated Funcinpec troops and deposed then-first Prime Minister Prince

Ranariddh in 1997. This has been cited as a key political event that has shaped

past elections.

The CPP and Funcinpec broke down the political deadlock a

year after the 2003 national elections. This current era of political

cooperation has been a major test for politicians and the major political

parties in Cambodia.

"I have said time and again that the two parties

should consider their partner's firmness being their most important interest,

while making all out efforts in the spirit of faithful partner on the basis of

legal principle and democracy aimed at strengthening and promoting one another,"

said Hun Sen.

Hun Sen and Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh

will be the only prime ministerial candidates in the 2008 elections. This was

established at the conclusion of the respective congresses as the two parties

promised to uphold their political guidelines.

"Just now Samdech Krom

Preah Norodom Ranariddh, President of Funcinpec, on its behalf, declares the

Funcinpec's support to me-Hun Sen-for the post of Prime Minister in case the

Cambodian People's Party wins. I declare the CPP's support for Samdech Krom

Preah for the post of Prime Minister in case Funcinpec wins the election," Hun

Sen said in his speech on November 14 to the Funcinpec congress at the Olympic

Stadium.

He said that over the last decade Funcinpec and CPP have endured

many challenges and gained much political experience together.

"Our rich

experiences indicate clearly the indispensability in the leading role of the two

parties in the political process of Cambodian society," Hun Sen told about 4,000

members of Funcinpec. "Whenever our two parties are strong and reconciling in

their leadership of the state and national construction, the country and its

people will certainly be enjoying peace, stability, social order and harmonized

progress."

At the groundbreaking ceremony of the national road between

Siem Reap and Poipet on November 19, Hun Sen said the two parties have a common

objective and that either party's success would be the success of the coalition.

"We-CPP and FUNCINPEC-would furthermore collaborate from bottom to top

in getting things done," said Hun Sen.

High level CPP officials such as

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, CPP secretary-general Say Chhum and other CPP

parliamentarians Ek Sam Ol, Pen Panha, and Cheam Yeap, attended the Funcinpec

congress. No Funcinpec officials, however, were invited to the CPP

congress.

The CPP appointed 121 new members to the CPP's powerful Central

Committee, adding to the existing 153 members, the party's central committee now

having a total 268 members.

One political analyst said, on condition of

anonymity, that a majority of the new CPP members were loyal to Hun Sen and that

this will ensure that there are no other party members to challenge the prime

minister's candidacy.

The analyst added that there has long been a rumor

that a faction led by Chea Sim and Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng would mount a

challenge inside the CPP that would lead to a division in the

party.

"During one period between sessions a development arose which was

complicated but we managed to normalize the situation," said Chea Sim, who

attributed the resolution to experiences, patience and responsibility stemming

from the party's strong internal unity and solidarity.

Ranariddh told

party supporters at Olympic Stadium that to succeed in a long term political

alliance with the CPP, the parties must not make defamatory statements against

each other during the election campaign.

"The two main parties will make

a joint political program for the forthcoming election campaign," Ranariddh

said.

However, at the party celebrating the 10th anniversary of the

opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) on November 29, the party leader Sam Rainsy

spoke to his several thousand participants by long distance telephone from

Paris. The self-exiled leader said that he will return to Cambodia in the near

future to lead the party and promised to change the party's name when Cambodia

has a real democracy and the fair judicial system.

He told his

supporters that the current party name will return to its original Khmer Nation

Party (KNP).

"I admire all the colleagues who do not surrender [to CPP

and Funcinpec] and still struggle for the benefit of the nation. I am proud to

have brilliant supporters. Our party will grow bigger every day even if there is

intimidation," said Rainsy. "There is no one who can break our

party."

Rainsy has been in France for months. He fled Cambodia when his

parliamentary immunity was withdrawn earlier in the year.

On November 22,

the Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued a third summons for Sam Rainsy to testify

in his ongoing defamation lawsuit by Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh.

Rainsy

accused Ranariddh of being involved in bribe-taking during the formation of the

coalition government after the political deadlock following the 2003

elections.

Kong Kom, acting president of the SRP, said that the alliance

between CPP and Funcinpec will die when the parties are not be able to reform

the judicial system, administer good governance or reduce poverty because of the

corruption within their ruling parties.

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