A CPP spokesman said yesterday that more than 600 opposition commune councillors and chiefs have defected and joined the CPP.
Sok Eysan said the number may reach 700 or 800 by today’s deadline for defections set by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The CPP won 1,156 communes and the CNRP took 489 in the June polls, while the Khmer National United Party won one commune.
The Supreme Court dissolved the opposition CNRP last week, banning 118 party officials from politics for five years and causing 5,007 elected commune chiefs and councillors across the country to lose their jobs.
Following the dissolution, Mr Hun Sen said former opposition officials could keep their positions if they defected to the ruling CPP.
“A working group is watching the figure of those who have defected to the CPP,” said Mr Eysan. “The number grows almost every hour.”
Kang Vorng, Chom Chao 1 commune chief in Phnom Penh’s Por Senchey district, defected from the CNRP to CPP to keep his position.
Mr Vorng said his decision to defect was spurred by the government’s recent commitment to education reform and infrastructure upgrades.
“The Prime Minister provided the opportunity to commune chiefs to continue their work, so I would like to thank all CPP leaders because I will still have the opportunity to serve the local people,” he said.
Mr Vorng said that he participated in political activities with the opposition for more than ten years and never attacked other parties, adding that he has been criticised by former colleagues for defecting.
“But it is my personal will in order to continue serving the people,” he said.
Former CNRP leader Kem Sokha is currently detained in Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province, charged with treason by Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
But some commune chiefs remain loyal to Mr Sokha and the CNRP, and have refused to defect.
“I cannot join to defend the position of the CPP and collect a salary working for them,” said one former commune chief who declined to be named.
“I would rather live alone and not betray the will of the people.”