Officials of the ruling Cambodian People's Party declined to
join 10 other parties in a political debate held Tuesday over long-awaited
The debate, held by the Committee for Free and Fair
Elections, gathered leaders from all other political parties competing in the
July 27 election and about 80 participants.
"The CPP did not join this forum because it is not very
interesting for the CPP," government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said.
Comfrel "is biased to the
opposition parties and has a stance to oppose the CPP," he said.
"Let the people decide for the July 27 election,"
Licadho rights group founder Kek Galabru, who moderated the
debate as a member of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, said the
forum was very interesting for political parties "and the voters."
"We very much regret that the CPP did not join the
forum, because this was a good opportunity for all political parties to show
voters how they can reduce corruption through the passage of the
anti-corruption law," she said.
Representatives from the 10 parties promised Tuesday to pass
in the first year an anti-corruption law that has been in the draft stage for
at least a decade. They also promised a top-down sweep of corrupt officials.
"The current leaders have confused the people into
thinking corruption is our tradition," Keat Sokun, a senior official of
the Human Rights Party, said during the debate. "This is very wrong."
trembling because of the Cambodian situation, where corruption is terrible,"
he said. "Corruption kills the entire nation."
Participants said they supported political platforms against
corruption, but many were concerned the parties will not keep their promises or
would be unable to fulfill them.