The 545-member central committee of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party closed its 40th convention yesterday by patting the government on the back for its work over the past year and asking its officials to shift their attention to the coming commune elections.
At the convention, held yesterday and Saturday on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island, attendees concluded the CPP had done a good job of promoting democracy over the past year, according to a statement.
“Democracy, rule of law, and people’s rights and freedoms have been raised high,” reads the English-language statement released after the convention closed. “The process of reform has been driven strongly . . . scoring fruitful results.”
However, remarks from National Assembly President Heng Samrin acknowledged that not everything in the world of politics had gone so well over the past year – a fact he blamed on the opposition CNRP.
“In 2016, the political situation seemed to be not good, because the two parties, the CPP and the CNRP, were upset a lot and did not work together under the roof the National Assembly,” Samrin said, according to an article on the ruling party’s website.
“Through the disagreement, the CNRP always found many ways to rely on the international community to pressure the CPP [officials] leading the government,” he said.
The statement released after the convention also said the CPP was committed to a number of new policies ahead of the commune elections which they believe will lead to victory.
Among these were reducing electricity prices; raising the income tax-free salary threshold to 1 million riel per month (about $250); creating more social land concessions; and issuing documents like national identification cards free of charge.
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday said it was wrong to blame the opposition for the year of turmoil and said his party had not wanted to be confronted with what it has faced in 2016.
“Whatever they say is their business, but when you ask the international community, the general public or civil society, we have seen that the people with ideas opposing [the government], have been imprisoned, while the opposition solves the problems,” Sovann said.
He added the CPP was correct to be shifting its focus to the commune elections. “It should think about 2017 and 2018. If it does things correctly, people will support it, and if it does things incorrectly, it will continue to lose seats,” he said.
“Let the people judge.”