The Grassroots Democratic Party has created a 125-point policy document outlining its priorities were it to be elected to office in the July national elections.
The fledgling party has said that it will contest the elections, though any further deterioration in the country’s current political situation could result in a withdrawal from the ballot.
Party spokesman and Phnom Penh candidate Sam Inn said the document, which will only be available once it’s “published”, looks at natural resources management, energy and foreign policy, and defence. A reform proposed, he said, will be imposing term limits on political offices.
“GDP will also limit the mandate of the prime minister, National Assembly president, Senate president, municipal and provincial governor and commune chiefs to only two mandates,” he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power for more than 30 years and many of his cabinet members and other senior government officials have been in office for decades.
While not providing details about the proposed policies, Inn said they were largely in line with the party’s founding principle of democratisation.
“Our target is to continue the democratisation process though we face big problems. We need to go forward because the Paris Peace Agreements have paved the way for Cambodia to select a multiparty democracy system,” he said.
The decision to contest the elections comes in the wake of the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party in November and the jailing of opposition leader Kem Sokha in September for “treason”.
Former opposition Deputy President Eng Chhay Eang said the substance of the GDP’s policies would be moot if they ever came close to ousting the ruling party, since they they could face the same fate as the CNRP.
“The [political] competitiveness depends on the powerful one, and this type of competition is not fair and cannot restore democracy,” he said.
Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan was more welcoming of the GDP’s participation in the elections.
“With their political programs, it is their right to have party policies and if they think it is good, then it is their business to introduce it to the people,” he said.
Hang Vitou, president of the Young Analysts Group, said that despite preparing for the elections and drafting a manifesto, the GDP does not have the resources and reach to challenge the CPP.
“If we talk about replacing the CNRP, I think that it [GDP] is not capable enough to do so and does not have enough capacity to become the biggest opposition party,” he said.