Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng speaks at a meeting Thursday last week.
DEPUTY Prime Minister Sar Kheng has told representatives of the ruling Cambodian People's Party that they must work together with other parties' officials to ensure power is shared across party lines at the local level after May's indirect council elections.
The country's 11,353 commune councillors will vote on May 17 to select the members of newly created district, provincial and municipal levels of government - key planks in the government's decentralisation efforts.
Sar Kheng, who is also minister of the interior and head of the government's decentralisation committee, told provincial governors and police officials that the success of decentralisation would require the participation of all four political parties.
"Mixed composition at the local level will bring new ideas.... Fourteen days after the council elections, the new councillors from the four political parties will take their positions, and therefore we should not make any obstacles for any reason," Sar Kheng said at the gathering at the Interior Ministry onThursday. "A dark corner will remain if there is just one party operating."
The National Election Committee has said four political parties will contest the council elections: the CPP with candidates in all 24 provinces, the main opposition Sam Rainsy Party with candidates in 23, the Norodom Ranariddh Party with candidates in seven, and Funcinpec with candidates in five.
In his speech at the ministry, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the government had last year spent US$57 million on commune council development projects. He said $82 million was earmarked for the reform program in 2009.
"Although we were flooded with work in 2008, we were still able to deliver support to communes and sangkats, and to coordinate the projects of various development partners through the smooth implementation of the decentralisation and deconcentration policy," Hun Sen said.
Ke Sovannroth, the secretary general of the SRP and an MP, said decentralisation had transformed local government across the Kingdom since the first commune elections five years ago, but said political discrimination - particularly against the SRP - remained an obstacle.
She said some CPP activists put their party's political interests ahead of their willingness to cooperate with SRP councillors.