The Grassroots Democratic Party’s (GDP) congress on Sunday elected Yang Saing Koma, a well-known agriculture expert, as their prime ministerial candidate for the July 29 national elections. The congress was held at GDP’s headquarters in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district.
There were three senior leaders of the GDP running to be the party’s prime ministerial candidate: Saing Koma, chairman of the board of directors; Secretary-General Sam Inn; and Khun Savoeun, the executive director of the GDP in Siem Reap province.
Saing Koma received 127 votes out of 146 that were cast. Inn received 12 and Savoeun seven.
With the overwhelming support of the party, Saing Koma said he was delighted to accept the candidacy. He said he believes the GDP is in a better position to win the election compared with the 19 other parties taking part in the polls.
“This is a sign that you have confidence in me leading our team and candidates [to become a lawmaker] to compete in the July 29 elections. I accept your nomination,” Saing Koma said.
He said the GDP would not have organised the party congress if it was not serious about winning the elections.
“When I become prime minister, I will listen to the lawmakers. I have a responsibility to elected lawmakers and also the people who voted for us. Our lawmakers are different from previous ones who only take responsibility in front of the prime ministers,” Saing Koma said.
As president of the party, Saing Koma said he is aware that he relies on National Assembly candidates to win the election.
“I will try to make a good impression on the leadership team. We share responsibilities and will carry out our duties respectfully. Our biggest challenge is to ensure that the people go out in full force to vote for the Grassroots Democratic Party, as an independent party, not a puppet for others. It’s a party competing in the interest of the country,” he said.
He also told the party members not to insult, accuse or incite others during the run-up to the vote.
Separately, the Khmer National United Party also held its congress on Saturday at Nhek Bun Chhay’s residence in the capital. The party congress re-elected Bun Chhay as president, after he was released from prison on May 1.
“I hope that we will win seats, so we hope to have more support than before,” Bun Chhay said.
The former deputy prime minister was arrested in August last year on suspicion of drug possession in a case that went back 10 years. After his arrest, the KNUP appointed Sing Kiri as acting party president.
“I did not commit the crimes I was charged with. I know myself for sure, and I faced the persecutors in court. There was no evidence that I colluded or had involvement in the drug case. So, the court ordered me to be freed,” he said.
Cambodian People’s Party spokesmen Sok Eysan and Suos Yara could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Sam Kuntheamy, director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee For Free and Fair Elections (Nicfec), said the KNUP could not win against the CPP in this election as it was only formed in 2016.
“The party’s popularity is still limited and not widespread like the CPP. However, I think they might win some seats. When compared with the 2013 National Assembly elections, there were only eight political parties. Now there are 20 parties in this election, some of which are newly formed".
“This is one reason that people criticise newly formed parties and accuse them of being formed just to follow, not lead,” Kuntheamy said.