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Parties push on with rallies

Opposition leader Kem Sokha greets supporters during a CNRP campaign rally yesterday in Prey Veng province. FACEBOOK
Opposition leader Kem Sokha greets supporters during a CNRP campaign rally yesterday in Prey Veng province. Facebook

Parties push on with rallies

A new section of road will be built on Phnom Penh’s Koh Dach if the Cambodian People’s Party wins the island commune at Sunday’s elections, an official told supporters yesterday, before introducing one local resident he said once hated the party but had been won over by the pledge.

Speaking to more than 1,000 party faithful on the mostly rural island on the city’s outskirts, Chroy Changvar District Governor Khliang Huot said that if the CPP retains control of the commune, it would construct 5 kilometres of road and connect the area to the city water supply.

“Now it is the campaign period, and after the voting and the opening of the boxes, [if] the Cambodian People’s Party wins, we will open the construction site for a 5 kilometre concrete road,” he said.

“Do brothers and sisters want clean water?” he went on to ask. “The Cambodian People’s Party will provide clean water to our brothers and sisters in Koh Dach after these commune elections – after we have built the concrete road surrounding the commune.

“All problems in Koh Dach will be solved.”

CPP supporters organize a party campaign rally yesterday in Phnom Penh's Koh Dach commune. Facebook
CPP supporters organize a party campaign rally yesterday in Phnom Penh's Koh Dach commune. Facebook

Huot, a charismatic city official who defected from the royalist Funcinpec party to the CPP in 2006, told the crowd to spread the message before Sunday’s vote. To demonstrate the appeal of the pledge, he brought to the stage a resident whom he said had been the government’s most aggressive critic on the island since the Khmer Rouge until now.

“After the Khmer Rouge, there was him. The Khmer Rouge killed people, but he cussed the Cambodian People’s Party – and now he wears the [campaign clothes of the] Cambodian People’s Party,” Huot said, inviting the man to explain why he changed his vote.

“The reason I support the Cambodian People’s Party,” the man announced, “is because the Cambodian People’s Party develops concrete roads for the people. That’s why I turned to the Cambodian People’s Party.”

The Cambodia National Rescue Party also held a campaign rally through Phnom Penh in the morning. About 120 kilometres to the east, the party’s leader, Kem Sokha, continued his own tour of the provinces, telling supporters in Prey Veng he was happy to challenge the CPP on its development record, but predicted it would lead to losses for the ruling party.

“If it has power already, it has made promises already, and it has done things that the citizens are not content with and [if] the citizens decide on change, don’t be angry with the citizens,” Sokha said, having earlier called on the CPP to respect the results if they lose. “This is not up to an individual or a party; it’s up to the will of the Cambodian citizens, who are the voters.”

CPP supporters organize a party campaign rally yesterday in Phnom Penh's Koh Dach commune. Facebook
Opposition leader Kem Sokha leads a rally in Prey Veng province. Facebook

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said by telephone that Sokha was correct to predict a transfer of power in communes across Cambodia in next Sunday’s vote, but he said that it would be from the CPP’s retiring commune council members to the party’s new candidates.

“The CPP will take more power, and for the transfer of power, we will transfer it to the successors in the CPP – [we will] not transfer it to the opposition party,” Eysan said. “The CPP absolutely must win, and transfer this power from the old to the young people.”

He added that because the CPP has registered more than 5 million members across the country, and there were 7.8 million people who registered to vote in last year’s enrolment period, the ruling party was hoping to win up to 68 percent of the nationwide vote.

Sokha, meanwhile, said last week that the opposition is also aiming to win more than 60 percent of the vote.

He repeated the claim in an interview with Reuters yesterday, before also predicting that the performance would help the CNRP win 70 percent of the vote at the July 2018 national election.

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