IN a move that will bring intense debate over the passage of a final election law,
the CPP is expected to adopt a party principle that would exclude dual nationals
from holding any elected position "from commune chief upwards" at the CPP
Extraordinary General Assembly which opens today.
The principle is one of nine contained in a draft document obtained by the Post which
should have been presented for discussion to the Party Plenum yesterday.
Dual citizenship has been an extremely contentious issue between the coalition partners.
An article banning it was originally included in the Nationality law, but subsequently
cut. Funcinpec, for obvious reasons, has been adamantly against prohibiting dual
citizenship. Many of its key leaders hold foreign passports, including First PM Norodom
Ranariddh and Ministers Pou Sothirak, You Hokry, Ieng Kieth, Tao Seng Hour and Veng
The draft principles also say that "the CPP chooses the provincial proportional
system" for elections and that "Regarding the question of immigrants, the
CPP supports the implementation of the immigration law based on history, human rights
and international law and protects lawful immigrants in Cambodia."
Approximately 700 CPP party members, representing CPP in 22 provinces, 34 ministries
and institutions as well as the CPP in the US, France and Australia will join the
members of the Central and Standing Committees to attend the three-day event, in
what party officials define as a show of unity and strength for the party.
"The party Congress is scheduled every five years and takes place at fixed dates
or whenever the situation requires a change of the party's strategy and policies-which
may be the case now," says one international observer.
CPP officials have acknowledged that the Congress will address some of the pressing
issues facing the Party, including upcoming elections, the Khmer Rouge as well as
economic and social issues facing the country.
The last congress took place in 1992, prior to the UN-sponsored elections in order
for the party to modify its statute to allow multi-party elections.
"Before that, CPP's General Assembly met on the eve of the Paris Peace Agreement
to discuss endorsing it," explained Ith Samheng, the deputy chief of CPP Cabinet
and advisor to Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Also on the agenda is the election-through secret ballot-of additional members to
the Central Committee by all the party members present at the meeting.
The Central Committee is the highest body within the party's structure, and members
have sole authority to elect members of the Standing Committee, the party's president
"Back in 1992 there were 75 members on the Central Committee but some have retired
or died, and now only 68 members remain on the Central Committee," says Ith
Samheng, adding that party members usually are nominated by the current members of
the Central Committee.
While the Congress' participants have the right to elect new members to the Central
Committee, they don't have the authority to remove any of the present members from
either the Central Committee or the Standing Committee, according to the CPP official.
CPP sources have revealed that the removal from the agenda of any possible threat
of a leadership reshuffle has insured that the long-delayed Congress would take place
The same sources maintain that, if such an item were placed on the agenda, friction
between party Vice President Hun Sen and President Chea Sim could flare up into an
open struggle for control of the party, possibly jeopardizing the image of unity
the party needs to maintain with upcoming elections.
While, on one hand, Hun Sen's effective populist approach in winning over the hearts
and minds of Cambodians-carried out through his social development programs- is a
"cause of jealousy" for Chea Sim, on the other, Hun Sen's "fierce
rhetoric" on the country's political affairs has drawn criticism from more moderate
members of the party's echelons, according to a CPP source.
"The congress will be a technical exercise rather than a political one,"
says another observer.
But others disagree, saying that the items on the agenda reflect some of the most
serious political issues preoccupying the party.
For example, CPP sources indicate that the decision of supporting a provincial proportional
system for the next elections has created deep discontent among some party members.
The draft nine-point principles also indicate the party's decision that the electoral
campaign not affect social security, and elections be supervised by Cambodia itself
with some assistance permitted from the international community.
Also included in the draft principles is the position that after the election a coalition
be formed and power be divided in a political framework, "with no division of
powers in the courts and the public administration."
As well, the party's anti-corruption, anti-terrorism stands, and a series of measures
aimed at fighting rural poverty, developing the country and embracing multi-party
liberal democracy are referred to.