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CPP master plan for poll victory

CPP master plan for poll victory

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SIGNS OF THE TIMES

An election worker places the logo of the CPP into the 35th slot during a random

drawing for placement on the July 26 ballots. Funcinpec drew the 34th position.

THE Cambodian People's Party has for months been orchestrating a sophisticated plan

to dominate the electoral machinery up to and after the July polling date.

The party's electoral architect is Standing Committee member Say Chhum, a former

party political bureau member in 1988 and a 13-year veteran of the CPP's internal

hierarchy.

Say Chhum's blueprint - approved by party vice chairman Hun Sen and chairman Chea

Sim - advocates no illegalities, but is thorough, pervasive and well-funded.

The 154-page plan, a copy of which was obtained by the Post, was originally distributed

at the CPP congress held earlier this year.

The CPP's strategy rests on the interpretation that it was covertly and systematically

usurped from power by an international conspiracy in 1993. Say Chhum contends that

UNTAC committed ballot box fraud and allowed multiple voting; recruited 50,000 Cambodian

returnees sympathetic to the opposition into positions of influence, while relegating

SoC supporters to menial tasks; and ran a partisan media campaign and registration

process against the CPP.

Say Chhum's 1998 campaign calls for similar influence to be wielded instead by the

CPP - short of fraud - to stop a repeat of the perceived trickery which defeated

it in 1993.

The plan calls for party members to guard ballot boxes; to place themselves in all

levels of electoral commissions and administrative offices; and to organize intensive

registration/membership drives and voting campaigns. The plan insists on the CPP

winning 73 parliamentary seats, with big gains over its 1993 results in Kampong Cham,

Takeo, Battambang, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

The CPP boasts of having signed up around 190,000 people (70% of voters) in Kampong

Speu from its thumb-printing membership campaign by cell leaders. Kandal, Preah Vihear

and Svay Rieng are all above 60% penetration. In Kratie, Koh Kong and Banteay Meanchey,

the CPP has been less successful, achieving less than 40%.

Countrywide, the CPP has "signed up" more than 3.1 million of the 5.5 million

potential voters, not including military or police. These people must be "encouraged"

to register and vote, along with their families. Up till February the CPP leadership

was still uncertain whether these party numbers were being correctly reported by

provincial chiefs, or were indeed enough to swing the election.

After months of politicizing local NGOs, the party now believes that a slight majority

now supports it, adding that fewer than one in five local NGOs is neutral.

The party also maintains that some international NGOs are politically sympathetic

toward it, and reports encouraging results in recruitment tactics among the Buddhist

and Cham communities.

Tactical political alliances have been set up with 11, and possibly as many as 13,

"opposition" parties, with five more still "uncertain". However,

Hun Sen and other leaders remain unconvinced as to their true loyalties.

Earlier this year, the CPP's Permanent Committee moved to stop some parties that

had allied themselves with CPP from recruiting CPP members as their own. The committee

sent an order to city and provincial offices to "block these parties' activities".

The party machinery is gearing up for change after what it predicts will be a successful

July poll. Rumors are already circulating of possible promotions for National Police

Chief Hok Lundy and Kampong Cham Governor Hun Neng, Hun Sen's brother - possibly

within the Interior and Defense ministries. Analysts predict that Interior Minister

Sar Kheng will be further marginalized.

One CPP source says that the "party moderates" - of whom Kheng is seen

as a figurehead - have been subordinated "and now it's a dangerous time to speak

out... the hardliners have played their last card and there's no turning back".

Some Funcinpec sources are now privately conceding that they don't want the CPP to

win fewer than 61 seats, fearing violent consequences.

"This is what the international community are paying for," said one politician.

"It may not be illegal but it's amoral. They're paying for elections that will

result in more dictatorial powers for one man. The only thing that may stop Hun Sen

is the economic situation - nothing else. Even [former Indonesian President] Suharto

couldn't fight people with empty stomachs."

Human rights and World Bank sources have also indicated to the Post that hoarding

of rice - both by local people and provincial governors - has been occurring, driving

up market prices.

The CPP has insisted on a Cambodian-run election, with international participation

limited to observer status only, "because some countries seek to be in a position

of election management [whereby]... they would destroy us."

The CPP realized the importance of having the party select the National Election

Commission, depending on them to be "just" and to prevent any "tricks...

against us".

That selection process has been vetted by the CPP down to provincial and communal

level.

According to the CPP's blueprint, party officials must also be recruited in all levels

of "election offices", and be trained as experts in electoral and other

related laws. The plan stressed, however, that it was important not to use public

servants to avoid any accusation of bias.

CPP members should also specialize in computer work, data control, voter education,

examining voter IDs during the ballot and registration, ballot counting and observation.

The CPP also set out to encourage the formation of the Constitutional Council, as

it similarly did the NEC. But the party's tactics of persuasion backfired this week

with the abrupt departure to Bangkok of 92-year-old Chau Sen Cocsal Chhum, the council's

chairman.

Cocsal Chhum said he was pressured by "very high-ranking government officials"

who picked him up from his house without telling him of their purpose, to sign a

letter [May 29] convening the first meeting of the Constitutional Council. "I

have since renounced that letter... My view, directed by my conscience, is that several

of the supposed members of the Constitutional Council have been appointed illegally

and that the meeting [June 3], and any meeting with these members, is invalid,"

he wrote.

Despite such thorough organization, the CPP campaign plan insists that all the steps

it is taking are done to "insure a free and fair election".

The overwhelming presence of CPP cell leaders at registration sites will continue,

according to the plan, at the polls on July 26.

Cell leaders have been asked to compare registration numbers to polling day numbers,

again to "prevent tricks" from the opposition.

Party members must be present at vote counting and during the transportation of ballot

boxes to the communes.

The CPP has set aside 50,000 riel a month for five officials at district and commune

level, and 40,000 riel a month for a village official.

Each provincial party office is paid 30 million riel a month and each district office

one million riel, with the same allotted for the 80 CPP "campaign teams"

distributed around Cambodia to "pay for small gifts".

Opposition parties calculate the elections are costing the CPP $2.5m a month. CPP

sources say that figure is too low.

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