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Party line: Chea Sim's health on mend

Party line: Chea Sim's health on mend

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Chea Sim's health has improved recently after taking a turn for the worse

earlier this month, said a source close to the 73-year-old president of the

Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and the Senate.

Long an influential player in local politics, Chea Sim's ailing health is hindering his job performance.

"Now, his health has

recovered a lot since he has been taking medicine prescribed by his doctors, but

he cannot sit for a long time because of his back," said the source on condition

of anonymity April 21.

The source said that Chea Sim has chronic heart

and back problems, as well as a tumor in his neck.

Chea Sim was reported

to be suffering from fainting spells as a result of the tumor, but this could

not be confirmed by official party sources.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh,

president of the National Assembly, made fresh reference to the ailing CPP

leader on April 21.

"Samdech Chea Sim's health is also not good, he has

heart problems, everybody is concerned about losing the highest dignified

leadership," Ranariddh said.

Chea Sim was forced to miss several

high-level delegations during April, including meeting the prime minister of

Myanmar, Lieutenant General Soe Win, and the secretary general of the Communist

Party of Vietnam, Nong Duc Manh

Um Sarith, general secretary of the

Senate, said that Chea Sim was scheduled to return to work this month but would

continue regular medical checkups.

The ill health of the ruling party

president has increased speculation about Chea Sim's successor.

Heng

Samrin, the honorary CPP chairman, told reporters outside the National Assembly

on April 7 that only he or Prime Minister Hun Sen could fill the position.

"I deserve it, if the members of the Standing Committee support me. And

I used to work [as head of state] for ten years," Samrin said.

The

comments surprised some observers, as they ignored the prospect of another

likely candidate, deputy prime minister Sar Kheng, stepping into the CPP's top

job.

Traditionally, Heng Samrin's small but loyal faction sides against

Hun Sen's supporters within party debates, often aligning with backers of Chea

Sim and Sar Kheng, said one well-connected political observer.

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