A Cambodian People’s Party official yesterday defended the appointment of senior military officials to fill vacancies on the party’s Permanent Commission of the Central Committee.
The ruling CPP yesterday concluded a three-day congress by filling seven vacant positions on the committee, some of them taken by senior military officials, a move criticised by a political analyst as undemocratic.
Those elected to the committee included Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, Land Management Minister Chea Sophara, Finance Minister Aun Poanmoniroth, RCAF Commander-in-Chief General Vong Pisen, Military Police Commander General Sao Sokha, Deputy RCAF Commander General Ith Sarath and RCAF Army Commander Lieutenant General Hun Manet.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay criticised the appointments yesterday, noting that the army should not be taking part in politics.
“Armies in democracies are apolitical and their members cannot be members of any political party and engage in political activities.”
CPP spokesman Suos Yara fended off the criticism yesterday.
“We are not taking RCAF members into the party because each Cambodian has the right to choose a political party to join,” Mr Yara said.
Mr Yara also urged the international community to not interfere in Cambodia’s internal affairs.
“The Kingdom of Cambodia continues to adhere to a neutral, non-aligned and peaceful foreign policy,” he said. “CPP members are determined to defend and strengthen the country’s democratic process based on the guarantee of peace and development.”
Chhim Phal Virun, another party spokesman, said the appointments to the committee were made based on merit, and nothing else.
“CPP members chose dignitaries who have roles in the government and recognised for their qualifications,” he said. “All the work is being handled by the Standing Members of the Central Committee, especially if the appointment concerns political affairs and leading the country.”
During the congress, party members also elected Ek Sam Ol as member and president of the Inspection Commission of the Central Committee to replace Ney Pena, who recently passed away.
Mr Phal Virun said there are now more than 30 Standing Committee members in the CPP’s Central Committee.
Party members also lauded the government yesterday for implementing reforms in line with the government’s Rectangular Strategy and moving the country forward in the face of international interference.
The congress “reviewed results of governance reforms…through to 2018” and found “foundational progresses in modernizing systems of governance through further combatting corruption, exercising legal and judicial reforms, public administration reform, reform of public finance management, reforms of armed forces, and in various other sectors,” a statement from the party said.
The congress “resolutely defends independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity against foreign interferences into Cambodian internal affairs, and against the slandering of Cambodia’s political righteousness and actions subservient to no external pressures,” it added.