As the year draws to a close, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) reflected on their “successful 2023” and set forward-looking goals, with Prime Minister Hun Manet officially voted into the role of vice-president of the party.

The CPP held its two-day annual congress on December 9-10 at their headquarters, the January 7 Palace, in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district, with 3,600 members in attendance, from district to the top levels.

In a four-page statement on the outcome of the congress, the party announced it has added 496 members to its Central Committee, bringing the total to 1,312. In addition, 23 central committee members were added to the list of standing members, while Manet was elected as the fifth CPP vice-president.

The statement said Cambodia has accomplished a great number of achievements in 2023, against the backdrop of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and various challenges posed by complex global issues.

It noted that peace, political stability, security, public order and social safety were all maintained during the sixth government mandate, and continues under the incumbent administration formed in August this year.

“The successful hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games increased Cambodia’s prestige on the international stage,” it added.

Another of the party’s achievements was their landslide victory in the July 23 general election, which saw the party claim over 80 per cent of public support, securing 120 out of the 125 National Assembly seats.

The congress noted the rapid revival of the Cambodian economy, with growth projected at 5.6 per cent this year and 6.6 per cent in 2024, before a return to its pre-pandemic levels of 7 per cent, which it attributed to the implementation of effective government policies and reforms.

“In 2023, Cambodia maintained macroeconomic and public finance stability, which promoted economic diversification, competitiveness and local consumption,” it said.

It also noted the expansion and strengthening of national unity, especially through the

formation of the alliance between the CPP and other 27 parties on October 25. The new government’s Pentagonal Strategy-Phase I also earned the party’s praise. It consists of six priority policy programmes and five key priorities, namely people, roads, water, energy and technology.

The ruling party set out several goals it aims to achieve, from politics to economic and social services.

“[We] will strengthen national defence, protect peace and political stability, prevent destruction from any threat and eradicate extremism in all its variations, as well as improving security, public order and social safety. We will ensure warmth for our people, so they can live in physical and mental happiness,” said the statement.

It vowed to protect the constitutional monarchy, the throne, multi-party democracy and promote human rights and the rule of law, while continuing reforms that will ensure good governance, social justice and development, as well as effective public service in a transparent, efficient way that will meet the demands of the public.

“No one will be left behind as we ensure our commitment to provide effective and inclusive social protections for the people, with more proactive measures to be applied to ease the economic and financial vulnerability of the people, especially the poor,” it said.

Health system development, social healthcare support and human resource development are also on their to-do-list.

“We will promote the livelihoods of civil servants, the armed forces, retired person and veterans, while defending the rights, dignity and interests of workers. We will solve the problems faced by vendors and those in the informal economic sector,” added the statement.

CCP spokesman Sok Eysan addressed a press conference after the closing of the congress, reiterating that the overall commitment of the CPP is to protect peace, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and provide social protections for the people.

“We strive to maintain macroeconomic stability and national currency stability, regardless of external impacts. Currently, inflation is nothing notable. We will defend all of our achievements and accomplish more, as stated in the Pentagonal Strategy-Phase I,” he said.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, believes that what mentioned in the CPP’s statement are in line with the new government policies, which he expects to have a positive impact on society at large.

“All of these goals, if the government can accomplish them, will bring development, security, public order, harmony and inclusiveness to our society. Their implementation will require a strong will, however,” he said.

Peou urged the ruling party to pay close attention to education sector reform, as it is the backbone for the country’s development. He also called for a strong commitment to combating the issue of drugs, which he warned was spreading to rural areas across the country.

Eysan also highlighted his party’s unity, and denied any speculation about potential splits. He noted that the party continues to grow, with the previous membership of three million now more than double to over seven million.