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,
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
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