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CPP members told to prepare for ‘competitive’ national election

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Interior minister and CPP vice-president Sar Kheng presides over a party meeting to review the commune council elections in Battambang province on July 9. INTERIOR MINISTRY

CPP members told to prepare for ‘competitive’ national election

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, in his capacity as vice-president of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), told CPP members in Battambang province that next year’s general election will be very competitive.

Sar Kheng met with his party members over the weekend to evaluate the June 5 commune council elections, which saw the CPP competing with 16 other parties and winning 9,376 out of 11,622 commune council seats.

He said he expects that next year’s election will be more competitive and voter turnout in Battambang province in particular will be higher than it was for the commune elections, especially among migrant workers.

The government recently set July 23 as the date for the general election – the 7th mandate since the first post-war democratic election supported by the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) in 1993.

Sar Kheng said this trend required the ruling party to look into its strength and weaknesses and to pay attention to people’s comments and input in order to make the CPP ready for the general election, otherwise the results of next year’s election could be different from this year’s.

“What other issues are we having? For example, what injustices to the people still exist that we need to solve together such as abuses or violations of their rights. This is a big issue because injustice makes people unhappy and it could make them not vote for the CPP,” he said. “So, we will have to look for the shortcomings and issues and solve them.”

He also instructed his provincial party members to go down to the community to strengthen the party image by responding to people’s needs, such as in the wake of natural disasters.

Ou Chanrath, founder of the Cambodia Reform Party (CRP), said Sar Kheng has always had a lot of insight into politics and was thinking ahead to the 2023 general election. He said the parties outside the government are taking things more seriously and will not exclude themselves from competition.

He said some parties have seats in the commune councils which builds a strong base for them next year and makes the 2023 election more competitive, and that some parties are on their way to merging to make them stronger and better able to compete.

“I think that next year’s election will be very tough, but it is actually better when the contest is free and fair as it will benefit the people and the nation,” he said.

Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at Royal Academy of Cambodia, agreed that the election will be competitive because political parties have built up their bases already during the commune elections.

“There is a new situation for 2023 with the emergence of the Candlelight Party as a strong force to compete against the CPP,” he said. “Secondly, there is a possibility that the merger of smaller political parties could also create a major competitor.”

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